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Full text of "The story of a bad boy /"

THE 

EICHELBERGER BOOK 

BALTIMORE. 



Digitized by the Internet Archive 
in 2013 



http://archive.org/details/storyofbadboy01aldr 



WORKS. Riverside Edition. With two Portraits. 
Poetical Works, 2 vols., $3.00. Prose Works, 6 
vols., $9.00. The set, 8 vols., lamo, $12.00. 

I., II. Poems. 

III. Marjorie Daw and Other Stories. 

IV. Prudence Palfrey, and A Rivermouth 

Romance. 

V. The Queen of Sheba, and Other Stories. 
VI. The Stillwater Tragedy. 
VII. The Story of a Bad Boy, and The Little 
Violinist, with Other Sketches. 
VIII. From Ponkapog to Pesth, and An Old 
Town by the Sea. 

JUDITH OF BETHULIA. With portrait of Miss Nance 
O'Neil in the part of Judith. Crown 8vo, gilt top, 
$1.00, net. Postage 8 cents. 

PONKAPOG PAPERS. Narrow i2mo, $1.00 Post- 
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A SEA TURN AND OTHER MATTERS. Short Stories. 
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POEMS. Household Edition. With Portrait and I llus- 
trations. Crown 8vo, $1.50. 

For the numerous single-volume editions of Mr. A h 
drich's writings, see Catalogue. 

HOUGHTON, MIFFLIN AND COMPANY, 

Boston and New York. 



THOMAS BAILEY ALDKICH 



THE 

STORY OF A BAD BOY 




BOSTON AND NEW YORK 
HOUGHTON, MIFFLIN AND COMPANY 



CoPTBiaHT, 1869, 1877, and 1897, 
By THOMAS BAILEY AIDRICH. 



CONTENTS. 

Chapter Paob 

I. In which I INTRODUCB Myself 7 

II. In which I ENTERTAIN PECULIAR ViEWS ... 11 

III. On board the Typhoon . 18 

IV. Kivermouth • . 28 

V. The Nutter House and the Nutter Family . . 40 

VI. Lights and Shadows 52 

Vn. One Memorable Night 72 

VIII. The Adventures of a Fourth 86 

IX. I BECOME AN R. M. G. . . • . . . .98 

X. I fight Conway , , 107 

XI. All ABOUT Gypsy 118 

XII. Winter at Rivermouth 127 

XIII. The Snow Fort on Slatter's Hill . . . .134 

XIV The Cruise of the Dolphin ..... 146 

XV. An Old Acquaintance turns up 166 

XVI. In which Sailor Ben spins a Yarn . • • • 179 



IV CONTENTS. 

XVII. How WE ASTONISHED THE RiVERMOUTHIANS . . 192 

XVIII. A Frog he would a-wooinq go ... . 210 

XIX. I BECOME A Blighted Being ..... 226 

XX. In which I prove myself to be the Grandson of 

MY Grandfather 233 

XXI. In which I leave Rivermouth .... 251 

XXII. Exeunt Omnbs 267 



LIST OF ILLUSTEATIONS. 

The Snow Fort on Slatter's Hill . . . , Frontiipiece 

Little Black Sam Page 12 

Sailor Ben , . . , 25 

A Friendly Offer 30 

The Nutter House =42 

I PERFORM MY GrEAT FeAT 66 

The Burning of the old Stage-Coach 80 

Sold ! 95 

The Centipedes 101 

Prince Zany takes a Ride 123 

Tom Bailey's Composition 125 

Plan of Fort Slatter . . » 138 

Drifting Away 165 

The Recognition 176 

Sailor Ben and the Land-Shark 183 

The Old Sogers 206 

A Cherub ........... 230 

Pepper Whitcomb remonstrates 231 

Singular Conduct of Sailor Ben 241 



THE STORY OF A BAD BOY. 



CHAPTEK I. 



IN WHICH I INTRODUCE MYSELF. 



HIS is the story of a bad boy. 
Well, not such a very bad, 
but a pretty bad boy ; and I 
ought to know, for I am, or 
rather I was, that boy my- 
self. 

Lest the title should mis- 
lead the reader, I hasten to 
assure him here that I have 
no dark confessions to make. 
I call my story the story of 
a bad boy, partly to distin- 
guish myself from those 
faultless young gentlemen 
who generally figure in nar- 
ratives of this kind, and 
partly because I really was 
~ not a cherub. I may truth- 

fully say T was an amiable, impulsive lad, blessed 
with fine digestive powers, and no hypocrite. I 




8 



THE STORY OF A BAD BOY. 



did n't want to be an angel and with the angels 
stand; I did n't think the missionary tracts pre- 
sented to me by the Eev. Wibird Hawkins were half 
so nice as Eobinson Crusoe ; and I did n't send my 
little pocket-money to the natives of the Feejee Isl- 
ands, but spent it royally in peppermint-drops and 
taffy candy. In short, I was a real human boy, such 
as you may meet anywhere in New England, and no 
more like the impossible boy in a story-book than a 
sound orange is like one that has been sucked dry. 
But let us begin at the beginning. 

"Whenever a new scholar came to our school, I used 
to confront him at recess with the following words : 
" My name 's Tom Bailey ; what 's your name ? " If 
the name struck me favorably, I shook hands with the 
new pupil cordially ; but if it did n't, I would turn 
on my heel, for I was particular on this point. Such 
names as Higgins, Wiggins, and Spriggins were deadly 
affronts to my ear ; while Langdon, Wallace, Blake, 
and the like, were passwords to my confidence and 
esteem. 

Ah me ! some of those dear feUows are rather 
elderly boys by this time, — lawyers, merchants, sea- 
captains, soldiers, authors, what not ? Phil Adams 
(a special good name that Adams) is consul at Shang- 
hai, where I picture him to myself with his head 
closely shaved, — he never had too much hair, — and 
a long pigtail hanging down behind. He is married, 
I hear ; and I hope he and she that was Miss Wang 
Wang are very happy together, sitting cross-legged 



IN WHICH I INTRODUCE MYSELF. 



9 



over their diminutive cups of tea in a sky-blue tower 
hung with bells. It is so I think of him ; to me he 
is henceforth a jewelled mandarin, talking nothing 
but broken China. Whitcomb is a judge, sedate and 
wise, with spectacles balanced on the bridge of that 
remarkable nose which, in former days, was so plenti- 
fully sprinkled with freckles that the boys christened 
him Pepper Whitcomb. Just to think of little Pep- 
per Whitcomb being a judge ! What would he do to 
me now, I wonder, if I were to sing out " Pepper ! " 
some day in court ? Fred Langdon is in California, 
in the native-wine business, — he used to make the 
best licorice- water / ever tasted ! Binny Wallace 
sleeps in the Old South Burying-Ground ; and Jack 
Harris, too, is dead, — Harris, who commanded us 
boys, of old, in the famous snow-ball battles of Slat- 
ter's Hill. Was it yesterday I saw him at the head 
of his regiment on its way to join the shattered Army 
of the Potomac ? ISTot yesterday, but six years ago. 
It was at the battle of the Seven Pines. Gallant 
Jack Harris, that never drew rein until he had 
dashed into the Eebel battery ! So they found him, 
— lying across the enemy's guns. 

How we have parted, and wandered, and married, 
and died ! I wonder what has become of aU the boys 
who went to the Temple Grammar School at Eiver- 
mouth when I was a youngster ? 

" All, all arc gone, the old familiar faces I " 

It is with no ungentle hand I summon them back, 
1 f 



10 



THE STORY OF A BAD BOY. 



for a moment, from that Past which has closed upon 
them and upon me. How pleasantly they live again 
in my memory ! Happy, magical Past, in whose fairy 
atmosphere even Conway, mine ancient foe, stands 
forth transfigured, with a sort of dreamy glory encir- 
cling his bright red hair ! 

With the old school formula I commence these 
sketches of my boyhood. My name is Tom Bailey ; 
what is yours, gentle reader ? I take for granted it 
is neither Wiggins nor Spriggins, and that we shall 
get on famously together, and be capital friends for- 
ever. 



IN WHICH I ENTERTAIN PECULIAR VIEWS. 11 



CHAPTEE II. 

IN WHICH I ENTERTAIN PECULIAR VIEWS. 

WAS born at Eivermouth, 
but, before I had a chance 
to become very well ac- 
quainted with that pretty 
'New England town, my 
parents removed to New 
Orleans, where my father 
invested his money so se- 
curely in the banking busi- 
ness that he was never able 
to get any of it out again. 
But of this hereafter. 

I was only eighteen 
months old at the time of 
the removal, and it did n't 
make much difference to 
me where I was, because I 
was so small; but several 
years later, when my father 
proposed to take me North to be educated, I had my 
own peculiar views on the subject. I instantly kicked 
over the little negro boy who happened to be stand- 
ing by me at the moment, and, stamping my foot 




12 THE STORY OF A BAD BOY. 



violently on the floor of the piazza, declared that I 
would not be taken away to live among a lot of 
Yankees ! 




LITTLE BLACK SAM. 



You see I was what is called "a Northern man 
with Southern principles." I had no recollection of 
New England : my earliest memories were connected 
with the South, with Aunt Chloe, my old negro nurse, 
Piid with the great ill-kept garden in the centre of 
which stood our house, — a whitewashed stone house 

was, with wide verandas^ — shut out from the 



m WHICH I ENTERTAIN PECULIAR VIEWS. 13 

street by lines of orange, fig, and magnolia trees. I 
knew I was born at the North, but hoped nobody 
would find it out. I looked upon the misfortune as 
something so shrouded by time and distance that 
maybe nobody remembered it. I never told my school- 
mates I was a Yankee, because they talked about the 
Yankees in such a scornful way it made me feel that 
it was quite a disgrace not to be born in Louisiana, or 
at least in one of the Border States. And this im- 
pression was strengthened by Aunt Chloe, who said, 
" dar was n't no gentl'men in the IN'orf no way," and 
on one occasion terrified me beyond measure by de- 
claring that, " if any of dem mean whites tried to git 
her away from marster, she was jes' gwine to knock 
'em on de head wid a gourd ! " 

The way this poor creature's eyes flashed, and the 
tragic air with which she struck at an imaginary 
"mean white," are among the most vivid things in 
my memory of those days. 

To be frank, my idea of the North was about as 
accurate as that entertained by the well-educated 
Englishmen of the present day concerning America. 
I supposed the inhabitants were divided into two 
classes, — Indians and white people ; that the Indians 
occasionally dashed down on New York, and scalped 
any woman or child (giving the preference to chil- 
dren) whom they caught lingering in the outskirts 
after nightfall ; that the white men were either hunt- 
ers or schoolmasters, and that it was winter pretty 
much all the year round. The prevailing style of 
architecture I took to be log -cabins. 



14 



THE STORY OF A BAD BOY. 



With this delightful picture of Northern civiliza- 
tion in my eye, the reader will easily understand my 
terror at the bare thought of being transported to 
Eivermouth to school, and possibly will forgive me 
for kicking over little black Sam, and otherwise mis- 
conducting myself, when my father announced his 
determination to me. As for kicking little Sam, — I 
always did that, more or less gently, when anything 
went wrong with me. 

My father was greatly perplexed and troubled by 
this unusually violent outbreak, and especially by the 
real consternation which he saw written in every line 
of my countenance. As little black Sam picked him- 
self up, my father took my hand in his and led me 
thoughtfully to the library. 

I can see him now as he leaned back in the bam- 
boo chair and questioned me. He appeared strangely 
agitated on learning the nature of my objections to 
going North, and proceeded at once to knock down all 
my pine-log houses, and scatter all the Indian tribes 
with which I had populated the greater portion of the 
Eastern and Middle States. 

" Who on earth, Tom, has filled your brain with 
such silly stories ? " asked my father, wiping the tears 
from his eyes. • 

" Aunt Chloe, sir ; she told me." 

" And you really thought your grandfather wore a 
blanket embroidered with beads, and ornamented his 
leggins with the scalps of his enemies ? " 

"Well, sir, I did n't think that exactly." 



IN WHICH I ENTERTAIN PECULIAR VIEWS. 15 

" Did n't think that exactly ? Tom, you will be 
the death of me." 

He hid his face in his handkerchief, and, when he 
looked up, he seemed to have been suffering acutely. 
I was deeply moved myself, though I did not clearly 
understand what I had said or done to cause him to 
feel so badly. Perhaps I had hurt his feelings by 
thinking it even possible that Grandfather Nutter 
was an Indian warrior. 

My father devoted that evening and several subse^ 
quent evenings to giving me a clear and succinct ac- 
count of New England ; its early struggles, its pro- 
gress, and its present condition, — faint and confused 
glimmerings of all which I had obtained at school, 
where history had never been a favorite pursuit of 
mine. 

I was no longer unwilling to go North ; on the 
contrary, the proposed journey to a new world 
full of wonders kept me awake nights. I promised 
myself all sorts of fun and adventures, though I 
was not entirely at rest in my mind touching the 
savages, and secretly resolved to go on board the 
ship — the journey was to be made by sea — with a 
certain little brass pistol in my trousers-pocket, in 
case of any difiiculty with the tribes when we landed 
at Boston. 

I could n't get the Indian out of my head. Only 
a short time previously the Cherokees — or was it 
the Camanches ? — had been removed from their 
hunting-grounds in Arkansas ; and in the wilds of 



16 



THE STORY OF A BAD BOY. 



the Southwest the red men were still a source of ter- 
ror to the border settlers. "Trouble with the In- 
dians" was the staple news from Florida published 
in the New Orleans papers. We were constantly 
hearing of travellers being attacked and murdered in 
the interior of that State. If these things were 
done in Florida, why not in Massachusetts ? 

Yet long before the sailing day arrived I was eager 
to be off. My impatience was increased by the fact 
ihat my father had purchased for me a fine little 
Mustang pony, and shipped it to Eivermouth a fort- 
night previous to the date set for our own departure, — 
for both my parents were to accompany me. The 
pony (which nearly kicked me out of bed one night 
in a dream), and my father's promise that he and my 
mother would come to Rivermouth every other sum- 
mer, completely resigned me to the situation. The 
pony's name was Gitanay which is the Spanish for 
gypsy ; so I always called her — she was a lady 
pony — Gypsy. 

At length the time came to leave the vine-covered 
mansion among the orange-trees, to say good by to 
little black Sam (I am convinced he was heartily glad 
to get rid of me), and to part with simple Aunt Chloe, 
who, in the confusion of her grief, kissed an eyelash 
into my eye, and then buried her face in the bright 
bandana turban which she had mounted that morning 
in honor of our departure. 

I fancy them standing by the open garden gate; 
the tears are rolling down Aunt Chloe's cheeks; 



IN WHICH I ENTERTAIN PECULIAR VIEWS. I'J' 

Sam's six front teeth are glistening like pearls ; I 
wave my hand to him manfully, then I call out 
"good by" in a muffled voice to Aunt Chloe ; they 
and the old home fade away. I am never to see 
them again ! 



18 THE STORY OF A BAD BOY. 



CHAPTEE III. 

ON BOARD THE TYPHOON. 

DO not remember much 
about the voyage to Boston, 
for after the first few hours 
at sea I was dreadfully un- 
well. 

The name of our ship 
was the " A No. 1, fast-sail- 
ing packet Typhoon." I 
learned afterwards that she 
sailed fast only in the news- 
paper advertisements. My 
father owned one quarter 
of the Typhoon, and that 
is why we happened to go 
in her. I tried to guess 
which quarter of the ship 
he owned, and finally con- 
cluded it must be the hind 
quarter, — ■ the cabin, in 
which we had the cosiest of state-rooms, with one 
round window in the roof, and two shelves or boxes 
nailed up against the wall to sleep in. 

There was a good deal of confusion on deck while 




ON BOARD THE TYPHOON. 



19 



we were getting under way. The captain shouted, 
orders (to which nobody seemed to pay any attention) 
through a battered tin trumpet, and grew so red in 
the face that he reminded me of a scooped-out pump- 
kin with a lighted candle inside. He swore right and 
left at the sailors without the slightest regard for 
their feelings. They did n't mind it a bit, however^ 
but went on singing, — 

" Heave ho ! 
With the rum below, 
And hurrah for the Spanish Main ! " 

I will not be positive about " the Spanish Main," but 
it was hurrah for something 0. I considered them 
very jolly fellows, and so indeed they were. One 
weather-beaten tar in particular struck my fancy, — 
a thick-set, jovial man, about fifty years of age, with 
twinkling blue eyes and a fringe of gray hair circling 
his head like a crown. As he took off his tarpaulin 
I observed that the top of his head was quite smooth 
and flat, as if somebody had sat down on him when 
he was very young. 

There was something noticeably hearty in this 
man's bronzed face, a heartiness that seemed to ex- 
tend to his loosely knotted neckerchief. But what 
completely won my good-will was a picture of envi- 
able loveliness painted on his left arm. It was the 
head of a woman with the body of a fish. Her flow- 
ing hair was of livid green, and she held a pink comb 
in one hand. I never saw anything so beautiful, I 
determined to know that man. I think I would have 



20 



THE STORY OF A BAD BOY. 



given my brass pistol to have had such a picture 
painted on my arm. 

While I stood admiring this work of art, a fat 
wheezy steam-tug, with the word AJAX in staring 
black letters on the paddle-box, came puffing up 
alongside the Typhoon. It was ridiculously small 
and conceited, compared with our stately ship. I 
speculated as to what it was going to do. In a few 
minutes we were lashed to the little monster, which 
gave a snort and a shriek, and commenced backing 
us out from the levee (wharf) with the greatest ease. 

I once saw an ant running away with a piece of 
cheese eight or ten times larger tlmn itseK. I could 
not help thinking of it, when I found the chubby, 
smoky-nosed tug-boat towing the Typhoon out into 
the Mississippi River. 

In the middle of the stream we swung round, the 
current caught us, and away we flew like a great 
winged bird. Only it did n't seem as if we were mov- 
ing. The shore, with the countless steamboats, the 
tangled rigging of the ships, and the long lines of 
warehouses, appeared to be gliding away from us. 

It was grand sport to stand on the quarter-deck 
and watch all this. Before long there was nothing 
to be seen on either side but stretches of low swampy 
land, covered with stunted cypress-trees, from which 
drooped delicate streamers of Spanish moss, — a fine 
place for alligators and congo snakes. Here and there 
we passed a yeUow sand-bar, and here and there a 
snag lifted its nose out of the water like a shark. 



ON BOARD THE TYPHOON. 



21 



" This is your last chance to see the city, Tom," 
said my father, as we swept round a bend of the 
river. 

I turned and looked. New Orleans was just a 
colorless mass of something^ in the distance, and the 
dome of the St. Charles Hotel, upon which the sun 
shimmered for a moment, was no bigger than the top 
of old Aunt Chloe's thimble. 

What do I remember next ? the gray sky and the 
fretful blue waters of the Gulf. The steam-tug had 
long since let slip her hawsers and gone panting away 
with a derisive scream, as much as to say, " I Ve done 
my duty, now look out for yourself, old Typhoon ! " 

The ship seemed quite proud of being left to take 
care of itself, and, with its huge white sails bulged 
out, strutted off like a vain turkey. I had been 
standing by my father near the wheel-house all this 
while, observing things with that nicety of perception 
which belongs only to children; but now the dew 
began falling, and we went below to have supper. 

The fresh fruit and milk, and the slices of cold 
chicken, looked very nice ; yet somehow I had no 
appetite. There was a general smell of tar about 
everything. Then the ship gave sudden lurches that 
made it a matter of uncertainty whether one was 
going to put his fork to his mouth or into his eye. 
The tumblers and wineglasses, stuck in a rack over 
the table, kept clinking and clinking ; and the cabin 
lamp, suspended by four gilt chains from the ceilmg, 
swayed to and fro crazily. Now the floor seemed to 



22 



THE STORY OF A BAD BOY. 



rise, and now it seemed to sink under one's feet like 
a feather-bed. 

There were not more than a dozen passengers on 
board, including ourselves ; and all of these, except- 
ing a bald-headed old gentleman, — a retired sea-cap- 
tain, — disappeared into their state-rooms at an early 
hour of the evening. 

After supper was cleared away, my father and the 
elderly gentleman, whose name was Captain Truck, 
played at checkers ; and I amused myself for a while 
by watching the trouble they had in keeping the men 
in the proper places. Just at the most exciting point 
of the game, the ship would careen, and down would 
go the white checkers pell-mell among the black. 
Then my father laughed, but Captain Truck would 
grow very angry, and vow that he would have won 
the game in a move or two more, if the confounded 
old chicken-coop — that 's what he called the ship — 
had n't lurched. 

"I — I think I will go to bed now, please," I said, 
laying my hand on my father's knee, and feeling ex- 
ceedingly queer. 

It was high time, for the Typhoon was plunging 
about in the most alarming fashion. I was speedily 
tucked away in the upper berth, where I felt a trifle 
more easy at first. My clothes were placed on a nar- 
row shelf at my feet, and it was a great comfort to me 
to know that my pistol was so handy, for I made no 
doubt we should fall in with Pirates before many 
hours. This is the last thing I remember with any 



ON BOARD THE TYPHOOH. 



23 



distinctness. At midnight, as I was afterwards told, 
we were struck by a gale which never left us until 
we came in sight of the Massachusetts coast. 

For days and days I had no sensible idea of what 
was going on around me. That we were being hurled 
somewhere upside-down, and that I did n't like it, 
was about aU I knew. I have, indeed, a vague im- 
pression that my father used to climb up to the berth 
and call me his " Ancient Mariner," bidding me cheer 
up. But the Ancient Mariner was far from cheering 
up, if I recollect rightly; and I don't believe that 
venerable navigator would have cared much if it had 
been announced to him, through a speaking-trumpet, 
that " a low, black, suspicious craft, with raking masts, 
was rapidly bearing down upon us ! " 

In fact, one morning, I thought that such was the 
case, for bang ! went the big cannon I had noticed 
in the bow of the ship when we came on board, 
and which had suggested to me the idea of pirates. 
Bang ! went the gun again in a few seconds. I made 
a feeble effort to get at my trousers-pocket ! But the 
Typhoon was only saluting Cape Cod, — the first land 
sighted by vessels approaching the coast from a south- 
erly direction. 

The vessel had ceased to roll, and my sea-sickness 
passed away as rapidly as it came. I was all right 
now, " only a little shaky in my timbers and a little 
blue about the gills," as Captain Truck remarked to 
my mother, who, like myseK, had been confined to 
the state-room during the passage. 



24 



THE STORY OF A BAD BOY. 



At Cape Cod the wind parted company with us 
without saying as much as " Excuse me " ; so we were 
nearly two days in making the run which in favor- 
able weather is usually accomplished in seven hours. 
That 's what the pilot said. 

I was able to go about the ship now, and I lost no 
time in cultivating the acquaintance of the sailor 
with the green-haired lady on his arm. I found 
him in the forecastle, — a sort of cellar in the front 
part of the vessel. He was an agreeable sailor, as 1 
had expected, and w^e became the best of friends in 
five minutes. 

He had been all over the world two or three times, 
and knew no end of stories. According to his own 
account, he must have been shipwecked at least 
twice a year ever since his birth. He had served 
under Decatur when that gallant officer peppered the 
Algerines and made them promise not to sell their 
prisoners of war into slavery ; he had worked a gun 
at the bombardment of Vera Cruz in the Mexican 
War, and he had been on Alexander Selkirk's Island 
more than once. There were very few things he 
had n't done in a seafaring way. 

" I suppose, sir," I remarked, " that your name is n't 
Typhoon ?" 

" Why, Lord love ye, lad, my name 's Benjamin 
Watson, of N"antucket. But I 'm a true blue Ty- 
phooner," he added, which increased my respect foi 
him; I don't know why, and I did n't know then 
whether Typhoon was the name of a vegetable or a 
profession. 



ON BOARD THE TYPHOON. 



25 



Not wishing to be outdone in frankness, I dis- 
closed to him that my name was Tom Bailey, upon 
which he said he was very glad to hear it. 




SAILOR BEN. 

When we got more intimate, I discovered that Sai- 
lor Ben, as he wished me to call him, was a perfect 
walking picture-book. He had two anchors, a star, 
and a frigate in full sail on his right arm ; a pair of 

2 



26 



THE STORY OF A BAD BOY. 



lovely blue hands clasped on his breast, and I 've no 
doubt that other parts of his body were illustrated 
in the same agreeable manner. I imagine he was 
fond of drawings, and took this means of gratifying 
his artistic taste. It was certainly very ingenious 
and convenient. A portfolio might be misplaced, or 
dropped overboard ; but Sailor Ben had his pictures 
wherever he went, just as that eminent person in the 
poem 

" With rings on her fingers and bells on her toes " — 

was accompanied by music on all occasions. 

The two hands on his breast, he informed me, were 
a tribute to the memory of a dead messmate from 
whom he had parted years ago, — and surely a more 
touching tribute was never engraved on a tombstone. 
This caused me to think of my parting with old 
Aunt Chloe, and I told him I should take it as a 
great favor indeed if he would paint a pink hand and 
a black hand on my chest. He said the colors were 
pricked into the skin with needles, and that the 
operation was somewhat painful. I assured him, in 
an off-hand manner, that I did n't mind pain, and 
begged him to set to work at once. 

The simple-hearted fellow, who was probably not 
a little vain of his skill, took me into the forecastle, 
and was on the point of complying with my request, 
when my father happened to look down the gangway, 
- — a circumstance that rather interfered with the 
deoorative art. 



ON BOARD THE TYPHOON. 



27 



I did n't have another opportunity of conferring 
alone with Sailor Ben, for the next morning, bright 
and early, we came in sight of the cupola of the 
Boston State House. 



28 



THE STORY OF A BAD BOY. 



CHAPTER IV 



RIVERMOUTH. 




T was a beautiful May 
morning when the Ty- 
phoon hauled up at Long 
Wharf. Whether the In- 
dians were not early risers, 
or whether they were away 
just then on a war-path, I 
could n't determine ; but 
they did not appear in any 
great force, — in fact, did 
not appear at all. 

In the remarkable geog- 
raphy which I never hurt 
myself with studying at 
New Orleans, was a pic- 
ture representing the land- 
ing of the Pilgrim Fathers 
at Plymouth. The Pilgrim 
Fathers, in rather odd hats 
and coats, are seen approaching the savages ; the 
savages, in no coats or hats to speak of, are evidently 
undecided whether to shake hands with the Pilgrim 
Fathers or to make one grand rush and scalp the 




EIVERMOUTH. 



20 



entire party. Now this scene had so stamped itself 
on my mind, that, in spite of all my father had said, 
I was prepared for some such greeting from the 
aborigines. Nevertheless, I was not sorry to have 
my expectations unfulfilled. By the way, speaking 
of the Pilgrim Fathers, I often used to wonder why 
there was no mention made of the Pilgrim Mothers. 

While our trunks were being hoisted from the hold 
of the ship, I mounted on the roof of the cabin, and 
took a critical view of Boston. As we came up the 
harbor, I had noticed that the houses were huddled 
together on an immense hill, at the top of which was 
a large building, the State House, towering proudly 
above the rest, like an amiable mother-hen surround- 
ed by her brood of many-colored chickens. A closer 
inspection did not impress me very favorably. The 
city was not nearly so imposing as New Orleans, 
which stretches out for miles and miles, in the shape 
of a crescent, along the banks of the majestic river. 

I soon grew tired of looking at the masses of 
houses, rising above one another in irregular tiers, 
and was glad my father did not propose to remain 
long in Boston. As I leaned over the rail in this 
mood, a measly-looking little boy with no shoes said 
that if I would come down on the wharf he 'd lick 
me for two cents, — not an exorbitant price. But I 
did n't go down. I climbed into the rigging, and 
stared at him. This, as I was rejoiced to observe, so 
exasperated him that he stood on his head on a pile 
of boards, in order to pacify himself 



30 



THE STORY OF A BAD BOY. 




A FRIENDLY OFFER. 



The first train for Ei vermouth left at noon. After 
a late breakfast on board the Typhoon, our trunks 
were piled upon a baggage-wagon, and ourselves 
stowed away in a coach, which, must have turned at 
least one hundred corners before it set us down at 
the railway station. 



RIVERMOUTH. 



32. 



In less time than it takes to tell it, we were shoot- 
ing across the country at a fearful rate, — now clatter- 
ing over a bridge, now screaming through a tunnel ; 
here we cut a flourishing village in two, like a knife, 
and here we dived into the shadow of a pine forest. 
Sometimes we glided along the edge of the ocean, 
and could see the sails of ships twinkling like bits 
of silver against the horizon ; sometimes we dashed 
across rocky pasture-lands where stupid-eyed cattle 
were loafing. It was fun to scare the lazy-looking 
cows that lay round in groups under the newly budded 
trees near the railroad track. 

We did not pause at any of the little brown sta- 
tions on the route (they looked just like overgrown 
black-walnut clocks), though at every one of them a 
man popped out as if he were worked by machinery, 
and waved a red flag, and appeared as though he 
would like to have us stop. But we were an express 
train, and made no stoppages, excepting once or twice 
to give the engine a drink. 

It is strange how the memory clings to some things. 
It is over twenty years since I took that first ride to 
Ki vermouth, and yet, oddly enough, I remember as if 
it were yesterday, that, as we passed slowly through 
tlie village of Hampton, we saw two boys fighting 
behind a red barn. There was also a shaggy yellow 
dog, who looked as if he had commenced to unravel, 
barking himself all up into a knot with excitement. 
We had only a hurried glimpse of the battle, — long 
enough, however, to see that the combatants were 



32 



THE STORY OF A BAD BOY. 



equally matched and very much in earnest. I am 
ashamed to say how many times since I have spec- 
ulated as to which boy got licked. Maybe both the 
small rascals are dead now (not in consequence of 
the set-to, let us hope), or maybe they are married, 
and have pugnacious urchins of their own ; yet to 
this day I sometimes find myself wondering how that 
fight turned out. 

We had been riding perhaps two hours and a half, 
when we shot by a tall factory with a chimney resem- 
bling a church-steeple ; then the locomotive gave a 
scream, the engineer rang his bell, and we plunged 
into the twilight of a long wooden building, open 
at both ends. Here we stopped, and the conductor, 
thrusting his head in at the car door, cried out, " Pas- 
sengers for Eivermouth ! " 

At last we had reached our journey's end. On the 
platform my father shook hands with a straight, brisk 
old gentleman whose face was very serene and rosy 
He had on "a white hat and a long swallow-tailed 
coat, the collar of which came clear up above his 
ears. He did n't look unlike a Pilgrim Father. This, 
of course, was Grandfather Nutter, at whose house I 
was born. My mother kissed him a great many 
times ; and I was glad to see him myself, though I 
naturally did not feel very intimate with a person 
whom I had not seen since I was eighteen months 
old. 

While we were getting into the double-seated wag- 
on which Grandfather Nutter had provided, I took 



RIVERMOUTH. 



33 



the opportunity of asking after the health of the 
pony. The pony had arrived all right ten days be- 
fore, and was in the stable at home, quite anxious to 
see me. 

As we drove through the quiet old town, I thought 
Eivermouth the prettiest place in the world ; and I 
think so still. The streets are long and wide, shaded 
by gigantic American elms, whose drooping branches, 
interlacing here and there, span the avenues with 
arches graceful enough to be the handiwork of fairies. 
Many of the houses have small flower-gardens in 
front, gay in the season with china-asters, and are 
substantially built, with massive chimney-stacks and 
protruding eaves. A beautiful river goes rippling 
by the town, and, after turning and twisting among 
a lot of tiny islands, empties itself into the sea. 

The harbor is so fine that the largest ships can sail 
directly up to the wharves and drop anchor. Only 
they don't. Years ago it was a famous seaport. 
Princely fortunes were made in the West India trade ; 
and in 1812, when we were at war with Great Britain, 
any number of privateers were fitted out at Eiver- 
mouth to prey upon the merchant vessels of the en- 
emy. Certain people grew suddenly and mysteriously 
rich. A great many of " the first families " of to-day 
do not care to trace their pedigree back to the time 
when their grandsires owned shares in the Matilda 
Jane, twenty-four guns. Well, well ! 

Few ships come to Eivermouth now. Commerce 
drifted into other ports. The phantom fleet sailed 



34 



THE STORY OF A BAD BOY. 



off one day, and never came back again. The crazy 
old warehouses are empty ; and barnacles and eel- 
grass cling to the piles of the crumbling wharves, 
where the sunshine lies lovingly, bringing out the 
faint spicy odor that haunts the place, — the ghost 
of the old dead West India trade ! 

During our ride from the station, I was struck, of 
course, only by the general neatness of the houses 
and the beauty of the elm-trees lining the streets. 
I describe Eivermouth now as I came to know it 
afterwards. 

Eivermouth is a very ancient town. In my day 
there existed a tradition among the boys that it was 
here Christopher Columbus made his first landing on 
this continent. I remember having the exact spot 
pointed out to me by Pepper Whitcomb ! One thing 
is certain. Captain John Smith, who afterwards, 
according to their legend, married Pocahontas, — 
whereby he got Powhatan for a father-in-law, — ex- 
plored the river in 1614, and was much charmed by 
the beauty of Eivermouth, which at that time was 
covered with wild strawberry-vines. 

Eivermouth figures prominently in all the colonial 
histories. Every other house in the place has its 
tradition more or less grim and entertaining. If 
ghosts could flourish anywhere, there are certain 
streets in Eivermouth that would be full of them. 
I don't know of a town with so many old houses. 
Let us linger, for a moment, in front of the one 
which the Oldest Inhabitant is always sure to poiiil, 
out to the curious stranger. 



RIVERMOUTH. 



35 



It is a square wooden edifice, with gambrel roof 
and deep-set window-frames. Over the windows and 
doors there used to be heavy carvings, — oak-leaves 
and acorns, and angels' heads with wings spread- 
ing from the ears, oddly jumbled together ; but these 
ornaments and other outward signs of grandeur have 
long since disappeared. A peculiar interest attaches 
itself to this house, not because of its age, for it 
has not been standing quite a century; nor on ac- 
count of its architecture, which is not striking,— 
but because of the illustrious men who at various 
periods have occupied its spacious chambers. 

In 1770 it was an aristocratic hotel. At the left 
side of the entrance stood a high post, from which 
swung the sign of the Earl of Halifax. The land- 
lord was a stanch loyahst, — that is to say, he be- 
lieved in the king, and when the overtaxed colonies 
determined to throw off the British yoke, the ad- 
herents to the Crown held private meetings in one 
of the back rooms of the tavern. This irritated the 
rebels, as they were called ; and one night they made 
an attack on the Earl of Halifax, tore down the sign- 
board, broke in the window-sashes, and gave the 
landlord hardly time to make himself invisible over 
a fence in the rear. 

For several months the shattered tavern remained 
deserted, At last the exiled innkeeper, on promising 
to do better, was allowed to return ; a new sign, bear- 
ing the name of William Pitt, the friend of America, 
swung proudly from the door-post, and the patriots 



36 



THE STORY OF A BAD BOY. 



jirere appeased. Here it was that the mail-coact 
from Boston twice a week, for many a year, set down 
its load of travellers and gossip. For some of the 
details in this sketch, I am indebted to a recently 
published chronicle of those times. 

It is 1782. The French Heet is lying in the har- 
bor of Ei vermouth, and eight of the principal offi- 
cers, in white uniforms trimmed with gold lace, have 
taken up their quarters at the sign of the William 
Pitt. Who is this young and handsome officer now 
entering the door of the tavern ? It is no less a per- 
sonage than the Marquis Lafayette, who has come all 
the way from Providence to visit the French gentle- 
men boarding there. What a gallant-looking cavalier 
he is, with his quick eyes and coal-black hair ! Forty 
years later he visited the spot again ; his locks were 
gray and his step was feeble, but his heart held its 
young love for Liberty. 

Who is this finely dressed traveller alighting from 
his coach-and-four, attended by servants in livery ? 
Do you know that sounding name, written in big 
A^alorous letters on the Declaration of Independence, 
— written as if by the hand of a giant ? Can you 
not see it now ? — John Hancock. This is he. 

Three young men, with their valet, are standing on 
the door-step of the William Pitt, bowing politely, 
and inquiring in the most courteous terms in the 
world if they can be accommodated. It is the time 
of the French Eevolution, and these are three sons 
of the Duke of Orleans. — Louis Philii^pe and hia 



RIVERMOUTH. 



37 



two brothers. Louis Philippe never forgot his visit 
to Eivermouth. Years afterwards, when he was 
seated on the throne of France, he asked an Ameri- 
can lady, who chanced to be at his court, if the pleas- 
ant old mansion were still standing. 

But a greater and a better man than the king of 
the French has honored this roof. Here, in 1789, 
came George Washington, the President of the United 
States, to pay his final complimentary visit to the 
State dignitaries. The wainscoted chamber where 
he slept, and the dining-hall where he entertained 
his guests, have a certain dignity and sanctity which 
even the present Irish tenants cannot wholly destroy. 

During the period of my reign at Eivermouth, an 
ancient lady. Dame Jocelyn by name, lived in one 
of the upper rooms of this notable building. She 
was a dashing young belle at the time of Washing- 
ton's first visit to the town, and must have been ex- 
ceedingly coquettish and pretty, judging from a cer- 
tain portrait on ivory still in the possession of the 
family. According to Dame Jocelyn, George Wash- 
ington flirted with her just a little bit, — in what a 
stately and highly finished manner can be imagined. 

There was a mirror with a deep filigreed frame 
hanging over the mantel-piece in this room. The 
glass was cracked and the quicksilver rubbed off or 
discolored in many places. Wlien it reflected your 
face you had the singular pleasure of not recognizing 
yourseK. It gave your features the appearance of 
having been run through a mince-meat machine. 



38 



THE STOKY OF A BAD BOY. 



But what rendered the looking-glass a thing of en- 
chantment to me was a faded green feather, tipped 
with scarlet, which drooped from the top of the 
tarnished gilt mouldings. This feather Washington 
took from the plume of his three-cornered hat, and 
presented with his own hand to the worshipful Mis- 
tress Jocelyn the day he left Eivermouth forever. I 
wish I could describe the mincing genteel air, and 
the ill-concealed self-complacency, with which the 
dear old lady related the incident. 

Many a Saturday afternoon have I climbed up the 
rickety staircase to that dingy room, which always 
had a flavor of snuff about it, to sit on a stiff-backed 
chair and listen for hours together to Dame Jocelyn's 
stories of the olden time. How she would prattle ! 
She was bedridden, — poor creature ! — and had not 
been out of the chamber for fourteen years. Mean- 
while the world had shot ahead of Dame Jocelyn. 
The changes that had taken place under her very 
nose were unknown to this faded, crooning old gen- 
tlewoman, whom the eighteenth century had neg- 
lected to take away with the rest of its odd traps. 
She had no patience with new-fangled notions. The 
old ways and the old times were good enough for her 
She had never seen a steam-engine, though she had 
heard "the dratted thing" screech in the distance. 
In lier day, when gentlefolk travelled, they went in 
their own coaches. She did n't see how respectable 
people could bring themselves down to " riding in a 
car with rag-tag and bobtail and Lord-knows-who." 



RIVERMOUTH. 



39 



Poor old aristocrat ! the landlord charged her no rent 
for the room, and the neighbors took turns in supply- 
ing her with meals. Towards the close of her life, 
— she lived to be ninety-nine, — she grew very fret- 
ful and capricious about her food. If she did nt 
chance to fancy what was sent her, she had no hesi- 
tation in sending it back to the giver with " Miss 
Jocelyn's respectful compliments." 

But I have been gossiping too long, — and yet not 
too long if I have impressed upon the reader an idea 
of what a rusty, delightful old town it was to which 
I had come to spend the next three or four years of 
my boyhood. 

A drive of twenty minutes from the station brought 
us to the door-step of Grandfather Nutter's house. 
What kind of house it was, and what sort of people 
lived in it, shall be told in another chapter. 



40 THE STORY OF A BAD BOY. 



CHAPTER V. 

THE NUTTER HOUSE AND THE NUTTER FAMILT. 

HE Nutter House, — all the 
more prominent dwellings 
in Rivermoutli are named 
after somebody; for in- 
stance, there is the Wal- 
ford House, the Venner 
House, the Trefethen 
House, etc., though it by- 
no means follows that they 
are inhabited by the people 
whose names they bear, — 
the Nutter House, to re- 
sume, has been in our fam- 
ily nearly a hundred years, 
and is an honor to the 
builder (an ancestor of 
ours, I believe), supposing 
durability to be a merit. 
If our ancestor was a car- 
penter, he knew his trade. I wish I knew mine as 
well. Such timber and such workmanship don't often 
come together in houses built nowadays. 

Imagine a low-studded structure, with a wide haU 




THE NUTTER HOUSE AND THE NUTTER FAMILY. 41 

running through the middle. At your right hand, 
as you enter, stands a tall black mahogany clock, 
looking like an Egyptian mummy set up on end. 
On each side of the hall are doors (whose knobs, it 
must be confessed, do not turn very easily), opening 
into large rooms wainscoted and rich in wood-carv- 
ings about the mantel-pieces and cornices. The walla 
are covered with pictured paper, representing land- 
scapes and sea-views. In the parlor, for example, 
this enlivening figure is repeated all over the room : 
— A group of English peasants, wearing Italian hats, 
are dancing on a lawn that abruptly resolves itself 
into a sea-beach, upon which stands a flabby fisher- 
man (nationality unknown), quietly hauling in what 
appears to be a small whale, and totally regardless of 
the dreadful naval combat going on just beyond the 
end of his fishing-rod. On the other side of the 
ships is the main-land again, with the same peasants 
dancing. Our ancestors were very w^orthy people, 
but their wall-papers were abominable. 

There are neither grates nor stoves in these quaint 
chambers, but splendid open chimney-places, with 
room enough for the corpulent back-log to turn over 
comfortably on the polished andirons. A wide stair- 
case leads from the hall to the second story, which is 
arranged much Like the first. Over this is the garret. 
I need n't tell a 'New England boy what a museum 
of curiosities is the garret of a well-regulated New 
England house of fifty or sixty years' standing. Here 
meet together, as if by some preconcerted arrange- 



42 



THE STORY OF A BAD BOY. 



ment, all the broken-down cliairs of the household, 
all the spavined tables, all the seedy hats, all the in- 
toxicated-looking boots, all the split walking-sticks 
that have retired from business, " weary with the 
march of life." The pots, the pans, the trunks, the 
bottles, — who may hope to make an inventory of the 
numberless odds and ends collected in this bewilder- 
ing lumber-room ? But what a place it is to sit of an 
afternoon with the rain pattering on the roof 1 what 
a place in which to read Gulliver's Travels, or the 
famous adventures of Einaldo Pdnaldini ! 




THE NUTTER HOUSE. 



THE NUTTER HOUSE AND THE NUTTER FAMILY. 43 

My grandfather's house stood a little back from 
the main street, in the shadow of two handsome 
elms, whose overgrown boughs would dash them- 
selves against the gables wlienever the wind blew 
hard. In the rear was a pleasant garden, covering 
perhaps a quarter of an acre, full of plum-trees 
and gooseberry-bushes. These trees were old set- 
tlers, and are all dead now, excepting one, which 
bears a purple plum as big as an egg. This tree, as I 
remark, is still standing, and a more beautiful tree to 
tumble out of never grew anywhere. In the north- 
western corner of the garden were the stables and 
carriage-house opening upon a narrow lane. You 
may imagine that I made an early visit to that local- 
ity to inspect Gypsy. Indeed, I paid her a visit 
every half-hour during the first day of my arrival. 
At the twenty-fourth visit she trod on my foot rather 
heavily, as a reminder, probably, that I was wearing 
out my welcome. She was a knowing little pony, 
that Gypsy, and I shall have much to say of her in 
the course of these pages. 

Gypsy's quarters were all that could be wished, but 
nothing among my new surroundings gave me more 
satisfaction than the cosey sleeping apartment that 
had been prepared for myseK. It was the hall room 
over the front door. 

I had never had a chamber all to myself before, 
and this one, about twice the size of our state-room 
on board the Typhoon, was a marvel of neatness and 
comfort. Pretty chintz curtains hung at the window, 



44 



THE STORY OF A BAD BOY. 



and a patch quilt of more colors than were in J oseph's 
coat covered the little truckle-bed. The pattern of 
the wall-paper left nothing to be desired in that line. 
On a gray background were small bunches of leaves, 
unlike any that ever grew in this world ; and on every 
other bunch perched a yellow-bird, pitted with crim- 
son spots, as if it had just recovered from a severe 
attack of the small-pox. That no such bird ever ex- 
isted did not detract from my admiration of each one. 
There were two hundred and sixty-eight of these 
birds in all, not counting those split in two where the 
paper was badly joined. I counted them once when 
I was laid up with a fine black eye, and falling asleep 
immediately dreamed that the whole flock suddenly 
took wing and flew out of the window. From that 
time I was never able to regard them as merely inan- 
imate objects. 

A wash-stand in the corner, a chest of carved ma- 
hogany drawers, a looking-glass in a filigreed frame, 
and a high-backed chair studded with brass nails hke 
a coffin, constituted the furniture. Over the head of 
the bed were two oak shelves, holding perhaps a 
dozen books, — among which were Theodore, or The 
Peruvians ; Eobinson Crusoe ; an odd volume of Tris- 
tram Shandy ; Baxter's Saints' Eest, and a fine Eng- 
lish edition of the Arabian Mghts, with six hundred 
wood-cuts by Harvey. 

Shall I ever forget the hour when I first overhauled 
these books ? I do not allude especially to Baxter's 
Saints' Rest, which is far from being a lively work 



THE NUTTER HOUSE AND THE NUTTER FAMILY. 45 

for the young, but to the Arabian Nights, and particu- 
larly Eobinson Crusoe. The thrill that ran into my 
fingers' ends then has not run out yet. Many a time 
did I steal up to this nest of a room, and, taking the 
dog's-eared volume from its shelf, glide off into an 
enchanted realm, where there were no lessons to get 
and no boys to smash my kite. In a lidless trunk in 
the garret I subsequently unearthed another motley 
collection of novels and romances, embracing the 
adventures of Baron Trenck, Jack Sheppard, Don 
Quixote, Gil Bias, and Charlotte Temple, — all of 
which I fed upon like a bookworm. 

I never come across a copy of any of those works 
without feeling a certain tenderness for the yellow- 
haired little rascal who used to lean above the magic 
pages hour after hour, religiously believing every word 
he read, and no more doubting the reality of Sindbad the 
Sailor, or the Knight of the Sorrowful Countenance, 
than he did the existence of his own grandfather. 

Against the wall at the foot of the bed hung a 
single-barrel shot-gun, — placed there by Grandfather 
Nutter, who knew what a boy loved, if ever a grand- 
father did. As the trigger of the gun had been acci- 
dentally twisted off, it was not, perhaps, the most 
dangerous weapon that could be placed in the hands 
of youth. In this maimed condition its " bump of 
destructiveness " was much less than that of my 
small brass pocket-pistol, which I at once proceeded 
to suspend from one of the nails supporting the fowl- 
ing-piece, for my vagaries concerning the red man 
had been entirely dispelled 



46 THE STORY OF A BAD BOY. 



Having introduced the reader to the Nutter House, 
a presentation to the Nutter family naturally follows. 
The family consisted of my grandfather ; his sister. 
Miss Abigail Nutter ; and Kitty Collins, the maid-of- 
all-work. 

Grandfather Nutter was a hale, cheery old gentle- 
man, as straight and as bald as an arrow. He had 
been a sailor in early life ; that is to say, at the age 
of ten years he fled from the multiplication-table, and 
ran away to sea. A single voyage satisfied him. 
There never was but one of our family who did nH 
run away to sea, and this one died at his birth. My 
grandfather had also been a soldier, — a captain of 
militia in 1812. If I owe the British nation any- 
thing, I owe thanks to that particular British soldier 
who put a musket-baU into the fleshy part of Captain 
Nutter's leg, causing that noble warrior a slight per- 
manent limp, but offsetting the injury by furnishing 
him with the material for a story which the old gen- 
tleman was never weary of teUing and I never weary 
of listening to. The story, in brief, was as follows. 

At the breaking out of the war, an English frigate 
lay for several days off the coast near Eivermouth. 
A strong fort defended the harbor, and a regiment of 
minute-men, scattered at various points along-shore, 
stood ready to repel the boats, should the enemy try 
to effect a landing. Captain Nutter had charge of a 
slight earthwork just outside the mouth of the river. 
Late one thick night the sound of oars was heard ; the 
sentinel tried to fire off his gun at haK-cock, and 



THE NUTTER HOUSE AND THE NUTTER FAMILY. 47 

could n't, when Captain Nutter sprung upon the para- 
pet in the pitch darkness, and shouted, " Boat ahoy ! " 
A musket-shot immediately embedded itself in the 
calf of his leg. The Captain tumbled into the fort 
and the boat, which had probably come in search of 
u^ater, pulled back to the frigate. 

This w^as my grandfather's only exploit during the 
war. That his prompt and bold conduct was instru- 
mental in teaching the enemy the hopelessness of 
attempting to conquer such a people was among the 
firm beliefs of my boyhood. 

At the time I came to Eivermouth my grandfather 
had retired from active pursuits, and was living at 
ease on his money, invested principally in shipping. 
He had been a widower many years ; a maiden sister, 
the aforesaid Miss Abigail, managing his household. 
Miss Abigail also managed her brother, and her broth- 
er's servant, and the visitor at her brother's gate, — 
not in a tyrannical spirit, but from a philanthropic 
desire to be useful to everybody. In person she was 
tall and angular; she had a gray complexion, gray 
eyes, gray eyebrows, and generally wore a gray dress. 
Her strongest weak point was a belief in the efficacy 
of " hot-drops " as a cure for all known diseases. 

If there were ever two people who seemed to dis- 
like each other, Miss Abigail and Kitty Collins were 
those people. If ever two people really loved each 
other. Miss Abigail and Kitty Collins were those peo- 
ple also. They were always either skirmishing oi 
having a cup of tea lovingly together. 



48 



THE STOHY OF A BAD BOY. 



Miss Abigail was very fond of me, and so was 
Kitty ; and in the course of their disagreements each 
let me into the private history of the other. 

According to Kitty, it was not originally my grand- 
father's intention to have Miss Abigail at the head 
of his domestic establishment. She had swooped 
down on him (Kitty's own words), with a band-box 
in one hand and a faded blue cotton umbrella, still 
in existence, in the other. Clad in this singular garb, 
■ — I do not remember that Kitty alluded to any addi- 
tional peculiarity of dress, — IViiss Abigail had made 
her appearance at the door of the Nutter House on 
the morning of my grandmother's funeral. The small 
amount of baggage which the lady brought with her 
would have led the superficial observer to infer that 
Miss Abigail's ^risit was limited to a few days. I 
run ahead of my story in saying she remained seven- 
teen years ! How much longer she would have re- 
mained can never be definitely known now, as she 
died at the expiration of that period. 

AVhether or not my grandfather was quite pleased 
by this unlooked-for addition to his family is a prob- 
lem. He was very kind always to Miss Abigail, and 
seldom opposed her ; though I think she must have 
tried his patience sometimes, especially when she 
interfered with Kitty. 

Kitty Collins, or Mrs. Catherine, as she preferred 
to be called, was descended in a direct line from an 
extensive family of kings who formerly ruled over 
Ireland. In consequence of various calamities, among 



THE NUTTER HOUSE AND THE NUTTER FAMILY. 49 



which the failure of the potato-crop may be men- 
tioned, Miss Kitty Collins, in company with several 
hundred of her countrymen and countrywomen, — 
also descended from kings, — came over to America 
* in an emigrant ship, in the year eighteen hundred 
and something. 

I don't know what freak of fortune caused the royal 
exile to turn up at Ei vermouth ; but turn up she did, 
a few months after arriving in this country, and was 
hired by my grandmother to do " general housework " 
for the sum of four shillings and sixpence a week. 

Kitty had been living about seven years in my 
grandfather's family when she unburdened her heart 
of a secret which had been weighing upon it all that 
time. It may be said of people, as it is said of na- 
tions, " Happy are they that have no history." Kitty 
had a history, and a pathetic one, I think. 

On board the emigrant ship that brought her to 
America, she became acquainted with a sailor, who, 
being touched by Kitty's forlorn condition, was very 
good to her. Long before the end of the voyage, 
which had been tedious and perilous, she was heart- 
broken at the thought of separating from her kindly 
protector ; but they were not to part just yet, for the 
sailor returned Kitty's affection, and the two were 
married on their arrival at port. Elitty's husband — 
she would never mention his name, but kept it locked 
in her bosom like some precious relic — had a con- 
siderable sum of money when the crew were paid 
off ; and the young couple — for Kitty was young 



50 



THE STORY OF A BAD BOY. 



then — lived very happily in a lodging-house on South 
Street, near the docks. This was in New York. 

The days flew by like hours, and the stocking in 
«vhich the little bride kept the funds shrunk and 
shrunk, until at last there were only three or four ' 
dollars left in the toe of it. Then Kitty was troubled ; 
for she knew her sailor would have to go to sea again 
unless he could get employment on shore. This he 
endeavored to do, but not with much success. One 
morning as usual he kissed her good day, and set out 
in search of work. 

" Kissed me good by, and called me his little Irish 
lass," sobbed Kitty, telling the story, — " kissed me 
good by, and, Heaven help me ! I niver set oi on 
him nor on the likes of him again." 

He never came back. Day after day dragged on, 
night after night, and then the weary weeks. What 
had become of him ? Had he been murdered ? had 
he fallen into the docks ? had he — deserted her ? No ! 
she could not believe that ; he was too brave and ten- 
der and true. She could n't believe that. He was 
dead, dead, or he 'd come back to her. 

Meanwhile the landlord of the lodging-house turned 
Kitty into the streets, now that " her man " was gone, 
and the payment of the rent doubtful. She got a 
place as a servant. The family she lived with shortly 
moved to Boston, and she accompanied them ; then 
they went abroad, but Kitty would not leave Amer- 
ica. Somehow she drifted to Eivermouth, and foi 
seven long years never gave speech to her sorrow 



THE NUTTER HOUSE AND THE NUTTEE FAMILY. 51 

until the kindness of strangers, who had become 
friends to her, unsealed the heroic lips. 

Kitty's story, you may be sure, made my grand- 
parents treat her more kindly than ever. In time she 
grew to be regarded less as a servant than as a friend 
in the home circle, sharing its joys and sorrows, — a 
faithful nurse, a willing slave, a happy spirit in spite 
of all. I fancy I hear her singing over her work in 
the kitchen, pausing from time to time to make some 
witty reply to Miss Abigail, — for Kitty, like all her 
race, had a vein of unconscious humor. Her bright 
honest face comes to me out from the past, the light 
and life of the Nutter House when I was a boy at 
Eivermouth. 



52 



THE STORY OF A BAD BOY. 



CHAPTER VI. 



LIGHTS AND SHADOWS. 



HE first shadow that fell 
upon me in my new home 
was caused by the return of 
my parents to New Orleans. 
Their visit was cut short by 
business which required my 
father's presence in Natchez, 
where he was establishing a 
branch of the banking-house. 
When they had gone, a sense 
of loneliness such as I had 
never dreamed of filled my 
young breast. I crept away 
to the stable, and, throwing 
my arms about Gypsy's neck, 
sobbed aloud. She too had 
come from the sunny South, 
and was now a stranger in a 
strange land. 

The little mare seemed to 
realize our situation, and gave me all the sympathy I 
could ask, repeatedly rubbing her soft nose over my 
face and lapping up my salt tears with evident relisL 




LIGHTS AND SHADOWS. 



53 



When night came, I felt still more lonesome. My 
grandfather sat in his arm-chair the greater part of 
the evening, reading the Eivermouth Barnacle, the 
local newspaper. There was no gas in those days, 
and the Captain read by the aid of a small block-tin 
lamp, which he held in one hand. I observed that 
he had a habit of dropping off into a doze every 
three or four minutes, and I forgot my homesickness 
at intervals in watching him. Two or three times, 
to my vast amusement, he scorched the edges of the 
newspaper with the wick of the lamp ; and at about 
half past eight o'clock I had the satisfaction — I am 
sorry to confess it was a satisfaction — of seeing the 
Eivermouth Barnacle in flames. 

]\Iy grandfather leisurely extinguished the fire with 
his hands, and Miss Abigail, who sat near a low table, 
knitting by the light of an astral lamp, did not even 
look up. She was quite used to this catastrophe. 

There was little or no conversation during the 
evening. In fact, I do not remember that any one 
spoke at all, excepting once, when the Captain re- 
marked, in a meditative manner, that my parents 
" must have reached New York by this time " ; at 
which supposition I nearly strangled myself in at- 
tempting to intercept a sob. 

The monotonous " click click " of Miss Abigail's 
needles made me nervous after a while, and finally 
drove me out of the sitting-room into the kitchen, 
where Kitty caused me to laugh by saying Miss 
Abigail thought that what I needed was "a good 



54 



THE STORY OF A BAD BOY. 



dose of hot-drops/' — a remedy she was forever ready 
to administer in all emergencies. If a boy broke bis 
leg, or lost his mother, I believe Miss Abigail would 
have given him hot-drops. 

Kitty laid herself out to be entertaining. She told 
me several funny Irish stories, and described some of 
the odd people living in the town ; but, in the midst 
of her comicalities, the tears would involuntarily ooze 
out of my eyes, though I was not a lad much ad- 
dicted to weeping. Then Kitty would put her arms 
around me, and tell me not to mind it, — that it 
was n't as if I had been left alone in a foreign land 
with no one to care for me, like a poor girl whom 
she had once known. I brightened up before long, 
and told Kitty all about the Typhoon and the old 
seaman, whose name I tried in vain to recall, and 
was obliged to fall back on plain Sailor Ben. 

I was glad when ten o'clock came, the bedtime for 
young folks, and old folks too, at the Nutter House. 
Alone in the hall-chamber I had my cry out, once 
for all, moistening the pillow to such an extent that 
I was obliged to turn it over to find a dry spot to go 
to sleep on. 

My grandfather wisely concluded to put me to 
school at once. If I had been permitted to go moon- 
ing about the house and stables, I should have kept 
my discontent alive for months. The next morning, 
accordingly, he took me by the hand, and we set 
forth for the academy, which was located at the far- 
ther end of the town. 



LIGHTS AND SHADOWS. 



55 



The Temple School was a two-story brick building, 
standing in the centre of a great square piece of land, 
surrounded by a high picket fence. There were three 
or four sickly trees, but no grass, in this enclosure, 
which had been worn smooth and hard by the tread 
of multitudinous feet. I noticed here and there 
small holes scooped in the ground, indicating that 
it was the season for marbles. A better playground 
for base-ball could n't have been devised. 

On reaching the school-house door, the Captain 
inquired for Mr. Grimshaw. The boy who answered 
our knock ushered us into a side-room, and in a few 
minutes — during which my eye took in forty-two 
caps hung on forty-two wooden pegs — Mr. Grim- 
shaw made his appearance. He was a slender man, 
with white, fragile hands, and eyes that glanced half 
a dozen different ways at once, — a habit probably 
acquired from watching the boys. 

After a brief consultation, my grandfather patted 
me on the head and left me in charge of this gentle- 
man, who seated himself in front of me and pro- 
ceeded to soimd the depth, or, more properly speak- 
ing, the shallowness, of my attainments. I suspect 
my historical information rather startled him. I 
recollect I gave him to understand that Richard III. 
was the last king of England. 

This ordeal over, Mr. Grimshaw rose and bade me 
follow him. A door opened, and I stood in the blaze 
of forty- two pairs of upturned eyes. I was a cool 
hand for my age, but I lacked the boldness to face 



56 



THE STORY OF A BAD BOY. 



this battery without mncing. In a sort of dazed 
way I stumbled after Mr. Grimshaw do^vll a narrow 
aisle between two rows of desks, and shyly took the 
seat pointed out to me. 

The faint buzz that had floated over the school- 
room at our entrance died away, and the interrupted 
lessons were resumed. By degrees I recovered my 
coolness, and ventured to look around me. 

The owners of the forty-two caps were seated at 
small green desks like the one assigned to me. The 
desks were arranged in six rows, with spaces between 
just wide enough to prevent the boys' whispering. 
A blackboard set into the wall extended clear across 
the end of the room ; on a raised platform near the 
door stood the master's table ; and directly in front 
of this was a recitation-bench capable of seating 
fifteen or twenty pupils. A pair of globes, tattooed 
with dragons and winged horses, occupied a shelf be- 
tween two windows, which were so high from the floor 
that nothing but a giraffe could have looked out of 
them. 

Having possessed myself of these details, I scru- 
tinized my new acquaintances with unconcealed curi- 
osity, instinctively selecting my friends and picking 
out my enemies, — and in only two cases did I mis- 
take my man. 

A sallow boy with bright red hair, sitting in the 
fourth row, shook his fist at me furtively several times 
during the morning. I had a presentiment I should 
have trouble with that boy some day, — a presenti- 
ment subsequently realized. 



LIGHTS AND SHADOWS. 



57 



On my left was a chubby little fellow with a great 
many freckles (this was Pepper Whitcomb), who 
made some mysterious motions to me. I did n't un- 
derstand them, but, as they were clearly of a pacific 
nature, I winked my eye at him. This appeared to 
be satisfactory, for he then went on with his studies. 
At recess he gave me the core of his apple, though 
there were several applicants for it. 

Presently a boy in a loose olive-green jacket with 
two rows of brass buttons held up a folded paper be- 
hind his slate, intimating that it was intended for me. 
The paper was passed skilfully from desk to desk until 
it reached my hands. On opening the scrap, I found 
that it contained a small piece of molasses candy in 
an extremely humid state. This was certainly kind. 
I nodded my acknowledgments and hastily slipped 
the delicacy into my mouth. In a second I felt my 
tongue grow red-hot with cayenne pepper. 

My face must have assumed a comical expression, 
for the boy in the olive-green jacket gave an hyster- 
ical laugh, for which he was instantly punished by 
Mr. Grimshaw. I swallowed the fiery candy, though 
it brought the water to my eyes, and managed to look 
so unconcerned that I was the only pupil in the form 
who escaped questioning as to the cause of Marden's 
misdemeanor. C. Marden was his name. 

Nothing else occurred that morning to interrupt 
the exercises, excepting that a boy in the reading 
class threw us all into convulsions by calling Absa- 
lom A-bol'-som, — "Abolsom, my son Abolsom!" 

3* 



58. 



THE STORY OF A BAD BOY. 



I laughed as loud as any one, but I am not so sure 
that I should n't have pronounced it Abolsom myself. 

At recess several of the scholars came to my desk 
and shook hands with me, Mr. Grimshaw having pre- 
viously introduced me to Phil Adams, charging him 
to see that I got into no trouble. My new acquaint- 
ances suggested that we should go to the playground. 
We were no sooner out of doors than the boy with 
the red hair thrust his way through the crowd and 
placed himself at my side. 

" I say, youngster, if you 're comin' to this school 
you 've got to toe the mark." 

I did n't see any mark to toe, and did n't under- 
stand what he meant ; but I replied politely, that, 
if it was the custom of the school, I should be happy 
to toe the mark, if he would point it out to me. 

" I don't want any of your sarse," said the boy, 
scowling. 

" Look here, Conway ! " cried a clear voice from the 
other side of the playground, " you let young Bailey 
alone. He 's a stranger here, and might be afraid of 
you, and thrash you. Why do you always throw 
yourself in the way of getting thrashed ? " 

I turned to the speaker, who by this time had 
reached the spot where we stood. Conway slunk off, 
favoring me with a parting scowl of defiance. I gave 
my hand to the boy who had befriended me, — his 
name was Jack Harris, — and thanked him for his 
good-will. 

" I tell you what it is. Bailey," he said, returning 



LIGHTS AND SHADOWS. 



59 



my pressure good-naturedly, "you'll have to fight 
Conway before the quarter ends, or you '11 have no 
rest. That fellow is always hankering after a licking;, 
and of course you '11 give him one by and by ; but 
what 's the use of hurrying up an unpleasant job ? 
Let 's have some base-ball. By the way, Bailey, you 
were a good kid not to let on to Grimshaw about the 
candy. Charley Harden would have caught it twice 
as heavy. He 's sorry he played the joke on you, 
and told me to tell you so. Hallo, Blake ! where are 
the bats ? " 

This was addressed to a handsome, frank-looking 
Jad of about my own age, who was engaged just then 
in cutting his initials on the bark of a tree near the 
school-house. Blake shut up his penknife and went 
off to get the bats. 

During the game which ensued I made the ac- 
quaintance of Charley Harden, Binny Wallace, Pep--^ 
per Whitcomb, Harry Blake, and Fred Langdon. 
These boys, none of them more than a year or two 
older than I (Binny Wallace was younger), were ever 
after my chosen comrades. Phil Adams and Jack 
Harris were considerably our seniors, and, though 
they always treated us " kids " very kindly, they gen- 
erally went with another set. Of course, before long 
I knew all the Temple boys more or less intimately, 
but the five I have named were my constant com- 
panions. 

My first day at the Temple Grammar School was 
on the whole satisfactory. I had made several warm 



60 



THE STORY OF A BAD BOY. 



friends and only two permanent enemies, — Conway 
and his echo, Seth Eodgers ; for these two always 
went together like a deranged stomach and a head- 
ache. 

Before the end of the week I had my studies well 
in hand. I was a little ashamed at finding myseK 
at the foot of the various classes, and secretly deter- 
mined to deserve promotion. The school was an ad- 
mirable one. I might make this part of my story 
more entertaining by picturing Mr. Grimshaw as a 
tjrrant with a red nose and a large stick ; but unfor- 
tunately for the purposes of sensational narrative, 
Mr. Grimshaw was a quiet, kind-hearted gentleman. 
Though a rigid disciplinarian, he had a keen sense of 
justice, was a good reader of character, and the boys 
respected him. There were two other teachers, — 
a French tutor and a writing-master, who visited 
the school twice a week. On Wednesdays and Satur- 
days we were dismissed at noon, and these half-holi- 
days were the brightest epochs of my existence. 

Daily contact with boys who had not been brought 
up as gently as I worked an immediate, and, in some 
respects, a beneficial change in my character. I had 
the nonsense taken out of me, as the saying is, — 
some of the nonsense, at least. I became more 
manly and self-reliant. I discovered that the world 
was not created exclusively on my account. In New 
Orleans I labored under the delusion that it was. 
Having neither brother nor sister to give up to at 



LIGHTS AND SHADOWS. 



61 



home, and being, moreover, the largest pupil at school 
there, my will had seldom been opposed. At Eiver- 
mouth matters were different, and I was not long in 
adapting myself to the altered circumstances. Of 
course I got many severe rubs, often unconsciously 
given ; but I had the sense to see that I was all the 
better for them. 

My social relations with my new schoolfellows 
were the pleasantest possible. There was always 
some exciting excursion on foot, — a ramble through 
the pine woods, a visit to the Devil's Pulpit, a high 
cliff in the neighborhood, — or a surreptitious row 
on the river, involving an exploration of a group of 
diminutive islands, upon one of which we pitched a 
tent and played we were the Spanish sailors who got 
wrecked there years ago. But- the. endless pine forest 
that skirted the town was our favorite haunt. There 
was a great green pond hidden somewhere in its 
depths, inhabited by a monstrous colony of turtles. 
Harry Blake, who had an eccentric passion for carv- 
ing his name on everything, never let a captured tur- 
tle slip through his fingers without leaving his mark 
engraved on its shell. He must have lettered about 
two thousand from first to last. We used to call 
them Harry Blake's sheep. 

These turtles were of a discontented and migratory 
turn of mind, and we frequently encountered two or 
three of them on the cross-roads several miles from 
their ancestral mud. Unspeakable was our delight 
whenever we discovered one soberly walking off with 



62 



THE STORY OF A BAD BOY. 



Harry Blake's initials ! I 've no doubt there are, at 
this moment, fat ancient turtles wanderinir about 
that gummy woodland with H. B. neatly cut on theii 
venerable backs. 

It soon became a custom among my playmates to 
make our barn their rendezvous. Gypsy proved a 
strong attraction. Captain Nutter bought me a little 
two-wheeled cart, which she drew quite nicely, after 
kicking out the dasher and breaking the shafts once 
or twice. With our lunch-baskets and fishing-tackle 
stowed away under the seat, we used to start off early 
in the afternoon for the sea-shore, where there were 
countless marvels in the shape of shells, mosses, and 
kelp. Gypsy enjoyed the sport as keenly as any of 
us, even going so far, one day, as to trot down the 
beach into the sea where we were bathing. As she 
took the cart with her, our provisions were not much 
improved. I shall never forget how squash-pie tastes 
after being soused in the Atlantic Ocean. Soda»- 
crackers dipped in salt water are palatable, but not 
squash-pie. 

There was a good deal of wet weather during those 
first six weeks at Eivermouth, and we set ourselves 
at work to find some in-door amusement for our half- 
holidays. It was all very well for Amadis de Gaul 
and Don Quixote not to mind the rain ; they had 
iron overcoats, and were not, from all we can learn, 
subject to croup and the guidance of their grand- 
fathers. Our case was different. 

" Now, boys, what shall we do ? " I asked, address^ 



LIGHTS AND SHADOWS. 



63 



ing a thoughtful conclave of seven, assembled in our 
barn one dismal rainy afternoon. 

" Let 's have a theatre," suggested Binny Wallace. 

The very thing! But where? The loft of the 
stable was ready to burst with hay provided for 
Gypsy, but the long room over the carriage-house 
was unoccupied. The place of all places ! My 
managerial eye saw at a glance its capabilities for 
a theatre. I had been to the play a great many 
times in New Orleans, and was wise in matters per- 
taining to the drama. So here, in due time, was set 
up some extraordinary scenery of my own painting. 
The curtain, I recollect, though it worked smoothly 
enough on other occasions, invariably hitched during 
the performances ; and it often required the united 
energies of the Prince of Denmark, the King, and 
the Grave-digger, with an occasional hand from " the 
fair Ophelia " (Pepper Whitcomb in a low-necked 
dress), to hoist that bit of green cambric. 

The theatre, however, was a success, as far as it 
went. I retired from the business with no fewer 
than fifteen hundred pins, after deducting the head- 
less, the pointless, and the crooked pins with which 
our doorkeeper frequently got " stuck." From first 
to last we took in a great deal of this counterfeit 
money. The price of admission to the " Rivermouth 
Theatre " was twenty pins. I played all the princi- 
pal parts myself, — not that I was a finer actor tlmn 
the other boys, but because I owned the establish- 
ment 



64 



THE STORY OF A BAD BOY. 



At the tenth representation, my dramatic career 
was brought to a close by an unfortunate circum- 
stance. We were playing the drama of "William 
Tell, the Hero of Switzerland." Of course I was 
William Tell, in spite of Fred Langdon, who wanted 
to act that character himself. I would n't let him, 
so he withdrew from the company, taking the only 
bow and arrow we had. I made a cross-bow out of 
a piece of whalebone, and did very well without him. 
We had reached that exciting scene where Gessler, 
the Austrian tyrant, commands Tell to shoot the 
apple from his son's head. Pepper Whitcomb, who 
played all the juvenile and women parts, w^as my 
son. To guard against mischance, a piece of paste- 
board was fastened by a handkerchief over the upper 
portion of Whitcomb's face, while the arrow to be 
used was sewed up in a strip of flannel. I was a 
capital marksman, and the big apple, only two yards 
distant, turned its russet cheek fairly towards me. 

I can see poor little Pepper now, as he stood with- 
out flinching, waiting for me to perform my great 
feat. I raised the cross-bow amid the breathless 
silence of the crowded audience, — consisting of 
seven boys and three girls, exclusive of Kitty Col- 
iins, who insisted on paying her way in with a 
clothes-pin. I raised the cross-bow, I repeat. Twang I 
went the w^liipcord ; but, alas ! instead of hitting the 
apple, the arrow^ flew right into Pepper Whitcomb's 
mouth, which happened to be open at the time, and 
destroyed my aim. 



LIGHTS AND SHADOWS^ 



65 




I PERFORM MY GREAT FEAT= 



I shall never be able to banish that awful moment 
from my memory. Pepper's roar, expressive of 
astonishment, indignation, and pain, is still ringing 
in my ears. I looked upon him as a corpse, and, 
glancing not far into the dreary future, pictured my- 
self led forth to execution in tlie presence of the 
very same spectators then assembled. 

Luckily poor Pepper was not seriously hurt ; but 
Grandfather I^utter, appearing in the midst of the 
©onfusion (attracted by the howls of young Tell)^ 

I 



66 



THE STORY OF A BAD BOY. 



issued an injunction against all theatricals there- 
after, and the place was closed ; not, however, with- 
out a farewell speech from me, in which I said that 
this would have been the proudest moment of my 
life if I had n't hit Pepper Whitcomb in the mouth. 
Whereupon the audience (assisted, I am glad to state, 
by Pepper) cried " Hear ! hear ! " I then attributed 
the accident to Pepper himself, whose mouth, being 
open at the instant I fired, acted upon the arrow 
much after the fashion of a whirlpool, and drew in 
the fatal shaft. I was about to explain how a com- 
paratively small maelstrom could suck in the largest 
ship, when the curtain fell of its own accord, amid 
the shouts of the audience. 

This was my last appearance on any stage. It 
was some time, though, before I heard the end of 
the William Tell business. Malicious little boys 
who had n't been allowed to buy tickets to my thea- 
tre used to cry out after me in the street, — 

" ' Who killed Cock Robin ? ' 
' I,' said the sparrer, 
' With my bow and arrer, 
I killed Cock Robin!' " 

The sarcasm of this verse was more than I could 
stand. And it made Pepper Whitcomb pretty mad 
to be called Cock Robin, I can tell you ! 

So the days glided on, with fewer clouds and more 
sunshine than fall to the lot of most boys. Conway 
was certainly a cloud. Within school-bounds he 
seldom ventured to be aggressive ; but whenever we 



LIGHTS AND SHADOWS. 



67 



met about town he never failed to brush against me, 
or pull my cap over my eyes, or drive me distracted 
by inquiring after my family in New Orleans, always 
alluding to them as highly respectable colored people. 

Jack Harris was right when he said Conway would 
give me no rest until I fought him. I felt it was 
ordained ages before our birth that we should meet 
on this planet and fight. With the view of not run- 
ning counter to destiny, I quietly prepared myself for 
the impending conflict. The scene of my dramatic 
triumphs was turned into a gymnasium for this pur- 
pose, though I did not openly avow the fact to the 
boys. By persistently standing on my head, raising 
heavy weights, and going hand over hand up a ladder, 
I developed my muscle until my little body was as 
tough as a hickory knot and as supple as tripe. I 
also took occasional lessons in the noble art of self- 
defence, under the tuition of Phil Adams. 

I brooded over the matter until the idea of fight- 
ing Conway became a part of me. I fought him in 
imagination during school-hours ; I dreamed of fight- 
ing with him at night, when he would suddenly ex- 
pand into a giant twelve feet high, and then as sud- 
denly shrink into a pygmy so small that I could n't 
hit him. In this latter shape he would get into my 
hair, or pop into my waistcoat-pocket, treating me 
with as little ceremony as the Liliputians showed 
Captain Lemuel Gulliver, — all of which was not 
pleasant, to be sure. On the whole, Conway was a 
cloud. 



68 



THE STORY OF A BAD BOY. 



And then I had a cloud at home. It was not 
Grandfather Nutter, nor Miss Abigail, nor Kitty Col- 
lins, though they all helped to compose it. It was 
a vague, funereal, impalpable something which no 
amount of gymnastic training would enable me to 
knock over. It was Sunday. If ever I have a boy 
to bring up in the way he should go, I intend to 
make Sunday a cheerful day to him. Sunday was 
not a cheerful day at the Nutter House. You shall 
judge for yourself. 

It is Sunday morning. I should premise by saying 
that the deep gloom which has settled over every- 
thing set in like a heavy fog early on Saturday even- 
ing. 

At seven o'clock my grandfather comes smilelessly 
down stairs. He is dressed in black, and looks as if 
he had lost all his friends during the night. Miss 
Abigail, also in black, looks as if she were prepared 
to bury them, and not indisposed to enjoy the cere- 
mony. Even Kitty Collins has caught the contagious 
gloom, as I perceive when she brings in the coffee- 
urn, — a solemn and sculpturesque urn at any time, 
but monumental now, — and sets it down in front of 
Miss Abigail. Miss Abigail gazes at the urn as if it 
held the ashes of her ancestors, instead of a generous 
quantity of fine old Java coffee. The meal progress- 
es in silence. 

Our parlor is by no means thrown open every day. 
It is open this June morning, and is pervaded by a 
Btrong smell of centre-table. The furniture of the 



LIGHTS AND SHADOWS. 



69 



room, and the little China ornaments on the mantel- 
piece, have a constrained, unfamiliar look. My grand- 
father sits in a mahogany chair, reading a large Bible 
covered with green baize. Miss Abigail occupies one 
end of the sofa, and has her hands crossed stiffly in 
her lap. I sit in the corner, crushed. Eobinson Cru- 
soe and Gil Bias are in close confinement. Baron 
Trenck, who managed to escape from the fortress of 
Glatz, can't for the life of him get out of our sitting- 
room closet. Even the Eivermouth Barnacle is sup- 
pressed until Monday. Genial converse, harmless 
books, smiles, lightsome hearts, all are banished. If 
I want to read anything, I can read Baxter's Saints' 
Best. I would die first. So I sit there kicking my 
heels, thinking about N"ew Orleans, and watching a 
morbid blue-bottle fly that attempts to commit sui- 
cide by butting his head against the window-pane. 
Listen ! — no, yes, — it is — it is the robins singing 
in the garden, — the grateful, joyous robins singing 
away like mad, just as if it was n't Sunday Their 
audacity tickles me. 

My grandfather looks up, and inquires in a sepul- 
chral voice if I am ready for Sabbath school. It is 
time to go. I like the Sabbath school ; there are 
bright young faces there, at all events. When I get 
out into the sunshine alone, I draw a long breath ; I 
would turn a somersault up against Neighbor Penhal- 
low's newly painted fence if I had n't my best trou- 
sers on, so glad am I to escape from the oppressive 
atmosphere of the Nutter House. 



70 



THE STORY OF A BAD BOY. 



Sabbath school over, I go to meeting, joining my 
grandfather, who does n't appear to be any relation to 
me this day, and Miss Abigail, in the porch. Our 
minister holds out very little hope to any of us of 
being saved. Convinced that I am a lost creature, 
in common with the human family, I return home 
behind my guardians at a snail's pace. We have a 
dead cold dinner. I saw it laid out yesterday. 

There is a long inter^^al between this repast and 
the second service, and a still longer interval between 
the beginning and the end of that service; for the 
Kev. Wibird Hawkins's sermons are none of the short- 
est, whatever else they may be. 

After meeting, my grandfather and I take a walk. 
We visit — appropriately enough — a neighboring 
graveyard. I am by this time in a condition of mind 
to become a willing inmate of the place. The usual 
evening prayer-meeting is postponed for some reason. 
At half past eight I go to bed. 

This is the way Sunday was observed in the Nut- 
ter House, and pretty generally throughout the town, 
twenty years ago. People who were prosperous and 
natural and happy on Saturday became the most 
rueful of human beings in the brief space of twelve 
hours. I don't think there was any hjrpocrisy in 
this. It was merely the old Puritan austerity crop- 
ping out once a week. Many of these people were 
pure Christians every day in the seven, — ■ excepting 
the seventh. Then they were decorous and solemn 
to the verge of moroseness. I should not Hke to be 



LIGHTS AND SHADOWS. 



71 



misunderstood on this point. Sunday is a blessed 
day, and therefore it should not be made a gloomy 
one. It is the Lord's day, and I do believe that 
cheerful hearts and faces are not unpleasant in His 
sight. 

" day of rest ! How beautiful, how fair, 
How welcome to the weary and the old ! 
Day of the Lord ! and truce to earthly cares ! 
Day of the Lord, as all our days should be ! 
Ah, why will man by his austerities 
Shut out the blessed sunshine and the light, 
And make of thee a dungeon of despair ! " 



12 



THE STORY OF A BAD BOf. 



CHAPTER YII. 

ONE MEMORABLE NIGHT. 

WO months had elapsed since 
my arrival at Rivermouth, 
when the approach of an im- 
portant celebration produced 
the greatest excitement among 
the juvenile population of the 
town. 

There was very little hard 
study done in the Temple 
Grammar School the week 
preceding the Fourth of July. 
For my part, my heart and 
brain were so full of fire- 
crackers, Roman-candles, rock- 
ets, pin-wheels, squibs, and 
gunpowder in various seduc- 
tive forms, that I wonder I 
did n't explode under Mr. 
Grimsliaw's very nose. I 
could n't do a sum to save me ; I could n't tell, for 
love or money, whether Tallahassee was the capital 
of Tennessee or of Florida; the present and the 
pluperfect tenses were inextricably mixed in my 




ONE MEMOEABLE NIGHT. 



73 



memory, and I didn't know a verb from an ad- 
jective when I met one. This was not alone my 
condition, but that of every boy in the school. 

Mr. Grimshaw considerately made allowances for 
our temporary distraction, and sought to fix our inter- 
est on the lessons by connecting them directly or in- 
directly with the coming Event. The class in arith- 
metic, for instance, was requested to state how many 
boxes of fire-crackers, each box measuring sixteen 
inches square, could be stored in a room of such and 
such dimensions. He gave us the Declaration of 
Independence for a parsing exercise, and in geog- 
raphy confined his questions almost exclusively to 
localities rendered famous in the Eevolutionary AVar. 

" What did the people of Boston do with the tea 
on board the English vessels ? " asked our wily in- 
structor. 

" Threw it into the river ! " shrieked the smaller 
boys, with an impetuosity that made Mr. Grimshaw 
smile in spite of himself. One luckless urchin said, 
" Chucked it," for which happy expression he was 
kept in at recess. 

N'otwithstanding these clever stratagems, there was 
not much solid work done by anybody. The trail 
of the serpent (an inexpensive but dangerous fire-toy) 
was over us all. We went round deformed by quan- 
tities of Chinese crackers artlessly concealed in our 
trousers-pockets ; and if a boy whipped out his hand- 
kerchief without proper precaution, he was sure to 
let off two or three torpedoes. 

4 



74 



THE STOKY OF A BAD BOY. 



Even Mr. Grimshaw was made a sort of accessory 
to the universal demoralization. In calling the school 
to order, he always rapped on the table with a heavy 
ruler. Under the green baize table-cloth, on the 
exact spot where he usually struck, a certain boy, 
whose name I withhold, placed a fat torpedo. The 
result was a loud explosion, which caused Mr. Grim- 
shaw to look queer. Charley Marden was at the 
water-pail, at the time, and directed general atten- 
tion to himself by strangling for several seconds and 
then squirting a slender thread of water over the 
blackboard. 

Mr. Grimshaw fixed his eyes reproachfully on 
Charley, but said nothing. The real culprit (it 
was n't Charley Marden, but the boy whose name 
I withhold) instantly regretted his badness, and after 
school confessed the whole thing to Mr. Grimshaw, 
who heaped coals of fire upon the nameless boy's 
head by giving him five cents for the Fourth of July. 
If Mr. Grimshaw had caned this unknown youth, 
the punishment would not have been half so severe. 

On the last day of June the Captain received a 
letter from my father, enclosing five dollars " for my 
son Tom," which enabled that young gentleman to 
make regal preparations for the celebration of our 
national independence. A portion of this money, 
two dollars, I hastened to invest in fireworks ; the 
balance I put by for contingencies. In placing the 
fund in my possession, the Captain imposed one con- 
dition that dampened my ardor considerably, — I was 



ONE MEMORABLE NIGHT. 



75 



to buy no gunpowder. I might have all the snap- 
ping-crackers and torpedoes I wanted ; but gun- 
powder was out of the question. 

I thought this rather hard, for all my young friends 
were provided with pistols of various sizes. Peppei 
Whitcomb had a horse-pistol nearly as large as him- 
self, and Jack Harris, though he to be sure was a big 
boy, was going to have a real old-fashioned flint- 
lock musket. However, I did n't mean to let this 
drawback destroy my happiness. I had one charge 
of powder stowed away in the little brass pistol 
which I brought from ISTew Orleans, and was bound 
to make a noise in the world once, .if I never did 
again. 

It was a custom observed from time immemorial 
for the towns-boys to have a bonfire on the Square ^ 
on the midnight before the Fourth. I did n't ask 
the Captain's leave to attend this ceremony, for I 
had a general idea that he would n't give it. If the 
Captain, I reasoned, does n't forbid me, I break no 
orders by going. ISTow this was a specious line of 
argument, and the mishaps that befeU me in conse- 
quence of adopting it were richly deserved. 

On the evening of the 3d I retired to bed very 
early, in order to disarm suspicion. I did n't sleep a 
wink, waiting for eleven o'clock to come round ; and 
I thought it never would come round, as I lay count- 
ing from time to time the slow strokes of the ponder- 
ous beU in the steeple of the Old North Church. At 
length the laggard hour arrived. While the clock was 
striking I jumped out of bed and bejian dressing. 



76 



THE STORY OF A BAD BOY. 



My grandfather and Miss Abigail were heavy- 
sleepers, and I might have stolen down stairs and out 
at the front door undetected ; but such a commonplace 
proceeding did not suit my adventurous disposition. I 
fastened one end of a rope (it was a few yards cut from 
Kitty CoUins's clothes-line) to the bedpost nearest the 
window, and cautiously climbed out on the wide ped- 
iment over the hall door. I had neglected to knot 
the rope ; the result was, that, the moment I swung 
clear of the pediment, I descended like a flash of 
lightning, and warmed both my hands smartly. The 
rope, moreover, was four or five feet too short ; so I 
got a fall that would have proved serious had I not 
tumbled into the middle of one of the big rose-bushes 
growing on either side of the steps. 

I scrambled out of that without delay, and was 
congratulating myself on my good luck, when I saw 
by the light of the setting moon the form of a man 
leaning over the garden gate. It was one of the 
town watch, who had probably been observing my 
operations with curiosity. Seeing no chance of es- 
cape, I put a bold face on the matter and walked 
directly up to him. 

" What on airth air you a doin' ? " asked the man, 
grasping the collar of my jacket. 

" I live here, sir, if you please," I replied, " and am 
going to the bonfire. I did n't want to wake up the 
old folks, that 's all." 

The man cocked his eye at me in the most amia- 
ble manner, and released his hold. 



ONE MEMORABLE NIGHT. 



77 



" Boys is boys," he muttered. He did n t attempt 
to stop me as I slipped through the gate. 

Once beyond his clutches, I took to my heels and 
soon reached the Square, where I found forty or fifty 
fellows assembled, engaged in building a pyramid of 
tar-barrels. The palms of my hands still tingled so 
that I could n't join in the sport. I stood in the 
doorway of the Nautilus Bank, watching the workers, 
among whom I recognized lots of my schoolmates. 
They looked like a legion of imps, coming and going 
in the twilight, busy in raising some infernal edifice. 
What a Babel of voices it was, everybody directing 
everybody else, and everybody doing everything 
wrong ! 

When all was prepared, some one applied a match 
to the sombre pile. A fiery tongue thrust itself 
out here and there, then suddenly the whole fabric 
burst into flames, blazing and crackling beautifully. 
This was a signal for the boys to join hands and 
dance around the burning barrels, which they did 
shouting like mad creatures. When the fire had 
burnt down a little, fresh staves were brought and 
heaped on the pyi'e. In the excitement of the mo- 
ment I forgot my tingling palms, and found myself 
in the thick of the carousal. 

Before we were half ready, our combustible material 
was expended, and a disheartening kind of darkness 
settled down upon us. The boys collected together 
here and there in knots, consulting as to what should 
be done. It yet lacked four or five hours of day 



78 



THE STORY OF A BAD BOY. 



break, and none of us were in the humor to return to 
bed. I approached one of the groups standing neai 
the town -pump, and discovered in the uncertain light 
of the dying brands the figures of Jack Harris, Phil 
Adams, Harry Blake, and Pepper Whitcomb, their 
faces streaked with perspiration and tar, and theii 
whole appearance suggestive of ISTew Zealand chiefs. 

" Hullo ! here 's Tom Bailey ! " shouted Pepper 
Whitcomb ; " he '11 join in ! " 

Of course he would. The sting had gone out of 
my hands, and I was ripe for anything, — none the 
less ripe for not knowing what was on the tapis. 
After whispering together for a moment, the boys 
motioned me to follow them. 

We glided out from the crowd and silently wended 
our way through a neighboring alley, at the head of 
which stood a tumble-down old barn, owned by one 
Ezra Wingate. In former days this was the stable 
of the mail-coach that ran between Rivermouth and 
Boston. When the railroad superseded that primitive 
mode of travel, the lumbering vehicle was rolled into 
the barn, and there it stayed. The stage-driver, after 
prophesying the immediate downfall of the nation, died 
of grief and apoplexy, and the old coach followed in 
his wake as fast as it could by quietly dropping to 
pieces. The barn had the reputation of being haunted, 
and I think we all kept very close together when we 
found ourselves standing in the black shadow cast 
by the tall gable. Here, in a low voice. Jack Harris 
laid bare his plan, which was to burn the ancient 
stage-coach. 



ONE MEMORABLE NIGHT. 



79 



" The old trundle-cart ^ is n't worth twenty-five 
cents," said Jack Harris, " and Ezra Wingate ought 
to thank us for getting the rubbish out of the way. 
But if any fellow here does n't want to have a hand 
in it, let him cut and run, and keep a quiet tongue in 
his head ever after." 

With this he pulled out the staples that held the 
rusty padlock, and the big barn door swung slowly 
open. The interior of the stable was pitch-dark, of 
course. As we made a movement to enter, a sudden 
scrambling, and the sound of heavy bodies leaping 
in all directions, caused us to start back in terror. 

"Eats !" cried Phil Adams. 

" Bats ! " exclaimed Harry Blake. 

" Cats ! " suggested J ack Harris. " Who 's afraid ? " 

Well, the truth is, we were all afraid ; and if the 
pole of the stage had not been lying close to the 
threshold, I don't believe anything on earth would 
have induced us to cross it. We seized hold of the 
pole-straps and succeeded with great trouble in drag- 
ging the coach out. The two fore wheels had rusted 
to the axle-tree, and refused to revolve. It was the 
merest skeleton of a coach. The cushions had long 
since been removed, and the leather hangings, where 
they had not crumbled away, dangled in shreds from 
the worm-eaten frame. A load of ghosts and a span 
of phantom horses to drag them would have made 
the ghastly thing complete. 

Luckily for our undertaking, the stable stood at the 
top of a very steep hilL With three boys to push 



80 



THE STORY OF A BAD BOY. 



behind, and two in front to steer, we started the old 
coach on its last trip with little or no difficulty. Our 
speed increased every moment, and, the fore wheels 
becoming unlocked as we arrived at the foot of the 
declivity, we charged upon the crowd like a regiment 
of cavalry, scattering the people right and left. Be- 
' fore reaching the bonfire, to which some one had 
added several bushels of shavings. Jack Harris and 
Phil Adams, who were steering, dropped on the 
ground, and allowed the vehicle to pass over them, 
which it did without injuring them ; but the boys 
who were clinging for dear life to the trunk-rack 
behind fell over the prostrate steersmen, and there 
we all lay in a heap, two or three of us quite pictu- 
resque with the nose-bleed. 

The coach, with an intuitive perception of what 
was expected of it, plunged into the centre of the 
kindling shavings, and stopped. The flames sprung 
up and clung to the rotten woodwork, which burned 
like tinder. At this moment a figure was seen leap- 
ing wildly from the inside of the blazing coach. The 
figure made three bounds towards us, and tripped 
over Harry Blake. It was Pepper Whitcomb, with 
his hair somewhat singed, and his eyebrows com- 
pletely scorched off ! 

Pepper had slyly ensconced himself on the back 
seat before we started, intending to have a neat little 
ride down hill, and a laugh at us afterwards. But 
the laugh, as it happened, was on our side, or would 
have been, if half a dozen watchmen had not sud- 



ONE MEMORABLE NIGHT. 



81 



denly pounced down upon us, as we lay scrambling 
on the ground, weak with mirth over Pepper's mis- 
fortune. We were collared and marched off before 
we well knew what had happened. 

Tlie abrupt transition from the noise and light of 
the Square to the silent, gloomy brick room in the 
rear of the Meat Market seemed like the work of 
enchantment. We stared at each other aghast. 

" Well," remarked Jack Harris, with a sickly smile, 
" this is a go ! " 

" No go, I should say," whimpered Harry Blake, 
glancing at the bare brick walls and the heavy iron- 
plated door. 

" Never say die," muttered Phil Adams, dolefully. 

The Bridewell was a small low-studded chamber 
built up against the rear end of the Meat Market, 
and approached from the Square by a narrow pas- 
sage-way. A portion of the room was partitioned 
off into eight cells, numbered, each capable of hold- 
ing two persons. The cells were full at the time, as 
we presently discovered by seeing several hideous 
faces leering out at us through the gratings of the 
doors. 

A smoky oil-lamp in a lantern suspended from the 
ceiling threw a flickering light over the apartment, 
which contained no furniture excepting a couple of 
stout wooden benches. It was a dismal place by 
night, and only little less dismal by day, for the tall 
houses surrounding " the lock-up " prevented the 
faintest ray of sunshine from penetrating the venti- 
4* p 



82 



THE STORY OF A BAD BOY. 



lator over the door, — a long narrow window open- 
ing inward and propped up by a piece of lath. 

As we seated ourselves in a row on one of the 
benches, I imagine that our aspect was anything but 
cheerful. Adams and Harris looked very anxious, 
and Harry Blake, whose nose had just stopped bleed- 
ing, was mournfully carving his name, by sheer force 
of habit, on the prison bench. I don't think I ever 
saw a more "wecked" expression on any human 
countenance than Pepper ^AHiitcomb's presented. 
His look of natural astonishment at finding him- 
seK incarcerated in a jail was considerably height- 
ened by his lack of eyebrows. 

As for me, it was only by thinking how the late 
Baron Trenck would have conducted himself under 
similar circumstances that I was able to restrain my 
tears. 

None of us were inclined to conversation. A deep 
silence, broken now and then by a startling snore 
from the cells, reigned throughout the chamber. By 
and by Pepper Whitcomb glanced nervously towards 
Phil Adams and said, " Phil, do you think they will 
— hang us ? " 

Hang your grandmother ! " returned Adams, im- 
patiently ; " what I 'm afraid of is that they '11 keep 
us locked up until the Fourth is over." 

" You ain't smart ef they do ! " cried a voice from 
one of tlie cells. It was a deep bass voice that sent 
a chill through me. 

" Who are you ? " said Jack Harris, addressing the* 



ONE MEMORABLE NIGHT. 



83 



cells in general ; for the echoing qualities of the room 
made it difficult to locate the voice. 

" That don't matter/' replied the speaker, putting 
his face close up to the gratings of No. 3, " but ef I 
was a youngster like you, free an' easy outside there, 
this spot would n't hold me long." 

" That 's so ! " chimed several of the prison-birds, 
wagging their heads behind the iron lattices. 

" Hush ! " whispered Jack Harris, rising from his 
seat and walking on tip-toe to the door of cell No. 3, 
"What would you do?" 

" Do ? Why, I 'd pile them 'ere benches up agin 
that 'ere door, an' crawl out of that 'ere winder in no 
time. That 's my adwice." 

" And werry good adwice it is, Jim," said the occu- 
pant of No. 5, approvingly. 

Jack Harris seemed to be of the same opinion, for 
he hastily placed the benches one on the top of an- 
other under the ventilator, and, climbing up on the 
highest bench, peeped out into the passage-way. 

" If any gent happens to have a ninepence about 
him," said the man in cell No. 3, " there 's a sufferin' 
family here as could make use of it. Smallest favors 
gratefully received, an' no questions axed." 

This appeal touched a new silver quarter of a dol- 
lar in my trousers-pocket ; I fished out the coin from 
a mass of fireworks, and gave it to the prisoner. He 
appeared to be so good-natured a fellow that I ven- 
tured to ask what he had done to get into jaiL 

" Intirely innocent. I was clapped in here by a 



84 



THE STORY OF A BAD BOY. 



rascally nevew as wishes to enjoy my wealth afore 
I 'm dead." 

" Your name, sir ? " I inquired, with a view of re- 
porting the outrage to my grandfather and having the 
injured person reinstated in society. 

" Git out, you insolent young reptyle ! shouted 
the man, in a passion. 

I retreated precipitately, amid a roar of laughter 
from the other cells. 

" Can't you keep still ? " exclaimed Harris, with- 
drawing his head from the window. 

A portly watchman usually sat on a stool outside 
the door day and night ; but on this particular occa- 
sion, his services being required elsewhere, the bride- 
well had been left to guard itself. 

" All clear," whispered Jack Harris, as he vanished 
through the aperture and dropped softly on the 
ground outside. We all followed him expeditiously, 
— Pepper Whitcomb and myseK getting stuck in the 
window for a moment in our frantic efforts not to be 
last. 

" Now, boys, everybody for himseK I" 



THE ADVENTURES OF A FOURTH. 



85 



CHAPTEE YIII 



THE ADVENTURES OF A FOURTH. 



HE sun cast a broad column 
of quivering gold across the 
river at the foot of our 
street, just as I reached 
the doorstep of the Nutter 
House. Kitty Collins, with 
her dress tucked about her 
so that she looked as if she 
had on a pair of calico trou- 
sers, was washing off the 
sidewalk. 

" Arrah, you bad boy ! " 
cried Kitty, leaning on the 
mop-handle, " the Capen 
has jist been askin' for you. 
He 's gone up town, now. 
It 's a nate thing you done 
with my clothes-line, and 
it 's me you may thank for 
gettin' it out of the way before the Capen come 
down." 

The kind creature had hauled in the rope, and my 
escapade had not been discovered by the family ; but 




86 



THE STORY OF A BAD BOY. 



I knew very well that the burning of the stage-coacb, 
and the arrest of the boys concerned in the mischief, 
were sure to reach my grandfather's ears sooner or 
later. 

" Well, Thomas," said the old gentleman, an hour 
or so afterwards, beaming upon me benevolently 
across the breakfast-table, " you did n't wait to be 
called this morning." 

" No, sir," I replied, growing very warm, " I took a 
little run up town to see what was going on." 

I did n't say anything about the little run I took 
home again ! 

" They had quite a time on the Square last night," 
remarked Captain Nutter, looking up from the Kiver- 
mouth Barnacle, which was always placed beside his 
coffee-cup at breakfast. 

I felt that my hair was preparing to stand on end. 

" Quite a time," continued my grandfather. " Some 
boys broke into Ezra Wingate's barn and carried off 
the old stage-coach. The young rascals! I^do be- 
lieve they 'd burn up the whole town if they had 
their way." 

With this he resumed the paper. After a long 
silence he exclaimed, " Hullo ! " — upon which I near- 
ly fell off the chair. 

" ' Miscreants unknown,' " read my grandfather, 
following the paragraph with his forefinger ; " ' escaped 
from the bridewell, leaving no clew to their identi- 
ty, except the letter H, cut on one of the benches.' 
'Five dollars reward offered for the apprehension of 



THE ADVENTURES OF A FOURTH. 



87 



the perpetrators.' Sho ! I hope Wingate will catch 
them." 

I don't see how I continued to live, for on hearing 
this the breath went entirely out of my body. I 
beat a retreat from the room as soon as I could, and 
flew to the stable with a misty intention of mount- 
ing Gypsy and escaping from the place. I was pon- 
dering what steps to take, when Jack Harris and 
Charley Harden entered the yard. 

" I say," said Harris, as blithe as a lark, " has old 
Wingate been here ? " 

" Been here ? " I cried, " I should hope not ! " 

" The whole thing 's out, you know," said Harris, 
pulling Gypsy's forelock over her eyes and blowing 
playfully into her nostrils. 

" You don't mean it ! " I gasped. 

" Yes, I do, and we are to pay Wingate three dol- 
lars apiece. He '11 make rather a good spec out 
of it." 

" But how did he discover that Ave were the — the 
miscreants ? " I asked, quoting mechanically from 
the Eivermouth Barnacle. 

" Why, he saw us take the old ark, confound him ! 
He 's been trying to sell it any time these ten years. 
Now he has sold it to us. When he found that we 
had slipped out of the Meat Market, he went right off 
and wrote the advertisement offering five dollars re- 
ward ; though he knew well enough who had taken 
the coach, for he came round to my father's house 
before the paper was printed to talk the matter over. 



88 



THE STORY OF A BAD BOY. 



Was n't the governor mad, though ! But it 's all 
settled, I tell you. We 're to pay Wingate fifteen 
dollars for the old go-cart, which he wanted to sell 
the other day for seventy-five cents, and could n't. 
It 's a downright swindle. But the funny part of it 
\s to come." 

" O, there 's a funny part to it, is there ? " I re- 
marked bitterly* 

" Yes. The moment Bill Conway saw the adver- 
tisement, he knew it was Harry Blake who cut that 
letter H on the bench ; so off he rushes up te Win- 
gate — kind of him, was n't it ? — and claims the 
reward. ' Too late, young man,' says old Wingate, ' the 
culprits has been discovered.' You see Sly-boots 
had n't any intention of paying that five dollars." 

Jack Harris's statement lifted a weight from my 
bosom. The article in the Eivermouth Barnacle had 
placed the affair before me in a new light. I had 
thoughtlessly committed a grave offence. Though 
the property in question was valueless, we were clear- 
ly wrong in destroying it. At the same time Mr. 
Wingate had tacitly sanctioned the act by not pre' 
venting it when he might easily have done so. He 
had allowed his property to be destroyed in order that 
he might realize a large profit. 

Without waiting to hear more, I went straight to 
Captain Nutter, and, laying my remaining three dol- 
lars on his knee, confessed my share in the previous 
night's transaction. 

The Captain heard me through in profound silence, 



THE ADVENTURES OF A FOURTH. 



89 



pocketed the bank-notes, and walked off without 
speaking a word. He had punished me in his own 
whimsical fashion at the breakfast-table, for, at the 
very moment he was harrowing up my soul by read- 
ing the extracts from the Eivermouth Barnacle, he 
not only knew all about the bonfire, but had paid 
Ezra Wingate his three dollars. Such was . the du- 
plicity of that aged impostor ! 

I think Captain Nutter was justified in retaining 
my pocket-money, as additional punishment, though 
the possession of it later in the day would have got 
me out of a difficult position, as the reader will see 
further on. 

I returned with a light heart and a large piece of 
punk to my friends in the stable-yard, where we cele- 
brated the termination of our trouble by setting off 
two packs of fire-crackers in an empty wine-cask. 
They made a prodigious racket, but failed somehow 
to fully express my feelings. The little brass pistol 
in my bedroom suddenly occurred to me. It had 
been loaded I don't know how many months, long 
before I left New Orleans, and now was the time, if 
ever, to fire it off. Muskets, blunderbusses, and pis- 
tols were banging away lively all over town, and the 
smell of gunpowder, floating on the air, set me wild 
to add something respectable to the universal din. 

When the pistol was produced. Jack Harris ex- 
amined the rusty cap and prophesied that it would 
not explode. 

"Never mind," said I, "let 's try it/' 



90 



THE STORY OF A BAD BOY. 



I had fired the pistol once, secretly, in New Or- 
leans, and, remembering the noise it gave birth to on 
that occasion, I shut both eyes tight as I pulled the 
trigger. The hammer clicked on the cap with a dull, 
dead sound. Then Harris tried it ; then Charley 
Marden ; then I took it again, and after three or four 
trials was on the point of giving it up as a bad job, 
when the obstinate thing went off with a tremendous 
explosion, nearly jerking my arm from the socket. 
The smoke cleared away, and there I stood with the 
stock of the pistol clutched convulsively in my hand, 
— the barrel, lock, trigger, and ramrod having van- 
ished into' thin air. 

" Are you hurt ? " cried the boys, in one breath. 
— no," I replied, dubiously, for the concussion 
had bewildered me a little. 

When I realized the nature of the calamity, my 
grief was excessive. I can't imagine what led me to 
do so ridiculous a thing, but I gravely buried the re- 
mains of my beloved pistol in our back garden, and 
erected over the mound a slate tablet to the effect 
that " ^Ir. Barker, formerly of new Orleans, was Killed 
accidentally on the Fourth of july, 18 — in the 2nd 
year of his Age." * Binny Wallace, arriving on the 
spot just after the disaster, and Charley Marden (who 
enjoyed the obsequies immensely), acted with me as 
chief mourners. I, for my part, was a very sincere one. 

* This inscription is copied from a triangular-shaped piece of slate, 
still preserved in the garret of the Nutter House, together with the pi»- 
tol-but itself, which was subsequently dug up for a post-mortem exami- 
uation. 



THE ADVENTURES OF A FOURTH. 91 



As I turned away in a disconsolate mood from the 
garden, Charley Marden remarked that he should n't 
be surprised if the pistol-butt took root and grew into 
a mahogany-tree or something. He said he once 
planted an old musket-stock, and shortly afterwards 
a lot of shoots sprung up ! J ack Harris laughed ; but 
neither I nor Binny Wallace saw Charley's wicked 
joke. 

We were now joined by Pepper Whitcomb, Fred 
Langdon, and several other desperate characters, on 
their way to the Square, which was always a busy 
place when public festivities were going on. Feel- 
ing that I was still in disgrace with the Captain, I 
thought it politic to ask his consent before accom- 
panying the boys. 

He gave it with some hesitation, advising me to be 
.:areful not to get in front of the firearms. Once he 
put his fingers mechanically into his vest-pocket and 
half drew forth some dollar-bills, then slowly thrust 
tuem back again as his sense of justice overcame his 
genial disposition. I guess it cut the old gentleman 
to the heart to be obliged to keep me out of my 
pjcket-money. I know it did me. However, as I 
was passing through the hall. Miss Abigail, with a 
very severe cast of countenance, slipped a brand-new 
q^uarter into my hand. We had silver currency in 
those days, thank Heaven! 

Great were the bustle and confusion on the Square. 
is J the way, I don't know why they called this large 
open space a square, unless because it was an oval, — 



92 



THE STORY OF A BAD BOY. 



an oval formed by the confluence of half a dozen 
streets, now thronged by crowds of smartly dressed 
towns-people and country folks ; for Eivermouth on 
the Fourth was the centre of attraction to the inhab- 
itants of the neighboring villages. 

On one side of the Square were twenty or thirty 
booths arranged in a semi-circle, gay with little flags 
and seductive with lemonade, ginger-beer, and seed' 
cakes. Here and there were tables at which could 
be purchased the smaller sort of fireworks, such as 
pin-wheels, serpents, double-headers, and punk war- 
ranted not to go out. Many of the adjacent houses 
made a pretty display of bunting, and across each 
of the streets opening on the Square was an arch 
of spruce and evergreen, blossoming all over with 
patriotic mottoes and paper roses. 

It was a noisy, merry, bewildering scene as we 
came upon the ground. The incessant rattle of small 
arms, the booming of the twelve-pounder firing on the 
Mill Dam, and the silvery clangor of the church-bells 
ringing simultaneously, — not to mention an ambi- 
tious brass-band that was blowing itself to pieces on 
a balcony, — were enough to drive one distracted. 
We amused ourselves for an hour or two, darting in 
and out among the crowd and setting off our crackers. 
At one o'clock the Hon. Hezekiah Elkins mounted a 
platform in the middle of the Square and delivered 
an oration, to which his " feller-citizens " did n't pay 
much attention, having all they could do to dodge 
the squibs that were set loose upon them by mis- 



THE ADVENTURES OF A FOURTH. 93 



chievous boys stationed on the surrounding house- 
tops. 

Our little party which had picked up recruits here 
and there, not being swayed by eloquence, withdrew 
to a booth on the outskirts of the crowd, where we 
regaled ourselves with root-beer at two cents a glass. 
I recollect being much struck by the placard sur- 
mounting this tent : — 



EOOT 


Beer 


Sold 


Here. 



It seemed to me the perfection of pith and poetry. 
What could be more terse ? N'ot a word to spare, 
and yet everything fully expressed. Ehyme and 
rhythm faultless. It was a delightful poet who made 
those verses. As for the beer itself, — that, I think, 
must have been made from the root of all evil ! A 
single glass of it insured an uninterrupted pain for 
twenty-four hours. 

The influence of my liberality working on Charley 
Harden, — for it was I who paid for the beer, — he 
presently invited us all to take an ice-cream with 
him at Pettingil's saloon. Pettingil was the Del- 
monico of Eivermouth. He furnished ices and con- 
fectionery for aristocratic balls and parties, and did n't 
disdain to officiate as leader of the orchestra at the 
same ; for Pettingil played on the violin, as Pepper 
Whitcomb described it, " like Old Scratch." 



94 



THE STORY OF A BAD BOY. 



Pettingil's confectionery store was on the corner 
of Willow and High Streets. The saloon, separated 
from the shop by a flight of three steps leading to a 
door hung with faded red drapery, had about it an 
air of mystery and seclusion quite delightful. Four 
windows, also draped, faced the side-street, affording 
an unobstructed view of Marm Hatch's back yard, 
where a number of inexplicable garments on a clothes- 
line were always to be seen careering in the wind. 

There was a lulj. just then in the ice-cream busi- 
ness, it being dinner-time, and we found the saloon 
unoccupied. When we had seated ourselves around 
the largest marble-topped table, Charley Harden in 
a manly voice ordered twelve sixpenny ice-creams, 
" strawberry and verneller mixed." 

It was a magnificent sight, those twelve chilly 
glasses entering the room on a waiter, the red and 
white custard rising from each glass like a church- 
steeple, and the spoon-handle shooting up from the 
apex like a spire. I doubt if a person of the nicest 
palate could have distinguished, with his eyes shut, 
which was the vanilla and which the strawberry; 
but if I could at this moment obtain a cream tasting 
as that did, I would give five dollars for a very small 
quantity. 

We fell to with a will, and so evenly balanced 
were our capabilities that we finished our creams 
together, the spoons clinking in the glasses like one 
spoon. 

" Let *s have some more ! " cried Charley Harden, 



THE ADVENTURES OF A FOURTH. 



95 



with the air of Aladdin ordering up a fresh hogshead 
of pearls and rubies. " Tom Bailey, tell Pettingil to 
send in another round." 

Could I credit my ears ? I looked at him to see 
if he were in earnest. He meant it. In a moment 
more I was leaning over the counter giving directions 
for a second supply. Thinking it would make no 
difference to such a gorgeous young sybarite as Mar- 
den, I took the liberty of ordering ninepenny creams 
this time. 




sold! 



96 



THE STORY OF A BAD BOY. 



On returning to the saloon, what was my horror at 
finding it empty ! 

There were the twelve cloudy glasses, standing in 
a circle on the sticky marble slab, and not a boy to 
be seen. A pair of hands letting go their hold on 
the window-sill outside explained matters. I had 
had been made a victim. 

I could n't stay and face Pettingil, whose peppery 
temper was well known among the boys. I had n't 
a cent in the world to appease him. What should I 
do ? I heard the clink of approaching glasses, — the 
ninepenny creams. I rushed to the nearest window. 
It was only five feet to the ground. I threw myself 
out as if I had been an old hat. 

Landing on my feet, I fled breathlessly down High 
Street, through Willow, and was turning into Brier- 
wood Place when the sound of several voices, calling 
to me in distress, stopped my progress. 

" Look out, you fool ! the mine ! the mine ! " yelled 
the warning voices. 

Several men and boys were standing at the head 
of the street, making insane gestures to me to avoid 
something. But I saw no mine, only in the middle 
of the road in front of me was a common flour-bar- 
rel, which, as I gazed at it, suddenly rose into the 
air with a terrific explosion. I felt myself thrown 
violently off my feet. I remember nothing else, 
excepting that, as I went up, I caught a momentary 
glimpse of Ezra Wingate leering through his shop 
window like an avenging spirit. 



THE ADVENTURES OF A FOURTH. 



97 



The mine that had wrought me woe was not prop- 
erly a mine at all, but merely a few ounces of powder 
placed under an empty keg or barrel and fired with 
a slow-match. Boys who did n't happen to have 
pistols or cannon generally burnt their powder in 
this fashion. 

For an account of what followed I am indebted to 
hearsay, for I was insensible when the people picked 
me up and carried me home on a shutter borrowed 
from the proprietor of Pettingil's saloon. I was sup- 
posed to be killed, but happily (happily for me at 
least) I was merely stunned. I lay in a semi-uncon- 
scious state until eight o'clock that night, when I 
attempted to speak. Miss Abigail, who watched by 
the bedside, put her ear down to my lips and was 
saluted with these remarkable words : — 

" Strawberry and verneller mixed ! " 

" Mercy on us ! what is the boy saying ? " cried 
Miss Abigail. 

" ROOTBEERSOLDHERE !" 



98 THE STORY OF A BAD BOY. 



CHAPTEE IX. 

I BECOME AN R. M. C. 

N the course of ten days I 
recovered sufficiently from 
my injuries to attend school, 
where, for a little while, I 
was looked upon as a hero, 
on account of having been 
blown up. What don't we 
make a hero of ? The dis- 
traction which prevailed in 
the classes the week preced- 
ing the Fourth had subsided, 
and nothing remained to in- 
dicate the recent festivities, 
excepting a noticeable want 
of eyebrows on the part of 
Pepper Whitcomb and my- 
self. 

In August we had two 
weeks' vacation. It was 
about this time that I became a member of the 
Bivermouth Centipedes, a secret society composed 
of twelve of the Temple Grammar School boys. 
This was an honor to which I had long asj)ired, but, 




I BECOME AN R. M. C. 



99 



being a new boy, I was not admitted to the fraternity 
until my character had fully developed itself 

It was a very select society, the object of which I 
never fathomed, though I was an active member of the 
body during the remainder of my residence at Eiver- 
mouth, and at one time held the onerous position 
of r. C, — First Centipede. Each of the elect wore 
a copper cent (some occult association being estab- 
lished between a cent apiece and a centipede ! ) sus- 
pended by a string round his neck. The medals were 
worn next the skin, and it was while bathing one day 
at Grave Point, with Jack Harris and Fred Langdon, 
that I had my curiosity roused to the highest pitch 
by a sight of these singular emblems. As soon as I 
ascertained the existence of a boys' club, of course I 
was ready to die to join it. And eventually I was 
allowed to join. 

The initiation ceremony took place in Fred Lang- 
don's barn, where I was submitted to a series of trials 
not calculated to soothe the nerves of a timorous boy. 
Before being led to the Grotto of Enchantment, — 
such was the modest title given to the loft over my 
friend's wood-house, — my hands were securely pin- 
ioned, and my eyes covered with a thick silk hand- 
kerchief At the head of the stairs I was told in an 
unrecognizable, husky voice, that it was not yet too 
late to retreat if I felt myself physically too weak to 
undergo the necessary tortures. I replied that I was 
not too weak, in a tone which I intended to be reso- 
lute, but which, in spite of me, seemed to come from 
the pit of my stomach. 



100 



THE STORY OF A BAD BOY. 



" It is well ! " said the husky voice. 

I did not feel so sure about that; but, having made 
up my mind to be a Centipede, a Centipede I was 
bound to be. Other boys had passed through the or- 
deal and lived, why should not I ? 

A prolonged silence followed this preliminary ex- 
amination, and I was wondering w^hat w^ould come 
next, when a pistol fired off close by my ear deafened 
me for a moment. The unknown voice then directed 
me to take ten steps forward and stop at the word 
halt. I took ten steps, and halted. 

" Stricken mortal," said a second husky voice, more 
husky, if possible, than the first, "if you had ad- 
vanced another inch, you would have disappeared 
down an abyss three thousand feet deep ! " 

I naturally shrunk back at this friendly piece of 
information. A prick from some two-pronged instru- 
ment, evidently a pitchfork, gently checked my re- 
treat. I w^as then conducted to the brink of several 
other precipices, and ordered to step over many dan- 
gerous chasms, where the result would have been in- 
stant death if I had committed the least mistake. I 
have neglected to say that my movements were ac- 
companied by dismal groans from different parts of 
the grotto. 

Finally, I was led up a steep plank to what ap- 
peared to me an incalculable height. Here I stood 
breathless while the by-laws were read aloud. A 
more extraordinary code of laws never came from the 
brain of man The penalties attached to the abject 



I BECOME AN R. M. C. 



101 



being who should reveal any of the secrets of the 
society were enough to make the blood run cold. A 
second pistol-shot was heard, the something I stood 
on sunk with a crash beneath my feet, and I fell two 
miles, as nearly as I could compute it. At the same 
instant the handkerchief was whisked from my eyes, 
and I found myself standing in an empty hogshead 




THE CENTIPEDES. 



surrounded by twelve masked figures fantastically 
dressed. One of the conspirators was really appall- 



102 



THE STORY OF A BAD BOY. 



ing with a tin sauce-pan on his head, and a tiger-skin 
sleigh-robe thrown over his shoulders. I scarcely 
need say that there were no vestiges to be seen of 
the fearful gulfs over which I had passed so cau- 
tiously. My ascent had been to the top of the hogs- 
head, and my descent to the bottom thereof Holding 
one another by the hand, and chanting a low dirge, 
the Mystic Twelve revolved about me. This con- 
cluded the ceremony. With a merry shout the boys 
threw off their masks, and I was declared a regu- 
larly installed member of the R. M. C. 

I afterwards had a good deal of sport out of the 
club, for these initiations, as you may imagine, were 
sometimes very comical spectacles, especially when 
the aspirant for centipedal honors happened to be of 
a timid disposition. If he showed the slightest ter- 
ror, he was certain to be tricked unmercifully. One 
of our subsequent devices — a humble invention of 
my own — was to request the blindfolded candidate 
to put out his tongue, whereupon the First Centipede 
would say, in a low tone, as if not intended for the 
ear of the victim, "Diabolus, fetch me the red-hot 
iron ! " The expedition with which that tongue 
would disappear was simply ridiculous. 

Our meetings were held in various barns, at no 
stated periods, but as circumstances suggested. Any 
member had a right to call a meeting. Each boy 
who failed to report himself was fined one cent. 
Whenever a member had reasons for thinking that 
another member would be unable to attend, he called 



I BECOME AN R. M. C. 



103 



a meeting. For instance, immediately on learning 
the death of Harry Blake's great-grandfather, I is- 
sued a call. By these simple and ingenious meas- 
ures we kept our treasury in a flourishing condition, 
sometimes having on hand as much as a dollar and 
a quarter. 

I have said that the society had no especial object. 
It is true, there was a tacit understanding among us 
that the Centipedes were to stand by one another on 
all occasions, though I don't remember that they did ; 
but further than this we had no purpose, unless it 
was to accomplish as a body the same amount of 
mischief which we were sure to do as individuals. 
To mystify the staid and slow-going Eivermouthians 
was our frequent pleasure. Several of our pranks 
won us such a reputation among the townsfolk, 
that we were credited with having a large finger in 
whatever went amiss in the place. 

One morning, about a week after my admission 
into the secret order, the quiet citizens awoke to find 
that the sign-boards of all the principal streets had 
changed places during the night. People who went 
trustfully to sleep in Currant Square opened their 
eyes in Honeysuckle Terrace. Jones's Avenue at 
the north end had suddenly become Walnut Street, 
and Peanut Street was nowhere to be found. Con- 
fusion reigned. The town authorities took the mat- 
ter in hand without delay, and six of the Temple 
Grammar School boys were summoned to appear be- 
fore Justice Clapham. 



104 



THE STORY OF A BAD BOY. 



Having tearfully disclaimed to my grandfather all 
knowledge of the transaction, I disappeared from the 
family circle, and was not apprehended until late in 
the afternoon, when the Captain dragged me igno- 
miniously from the haymow and conducted me, more 
dead than alive, to the office of Justice Clapham, 
Here I encountered five other pallid culprits, who 
had been fished out of divers coal-bins, garrets, and 
chicken-coops, to answer the demands of the out- 
raged laws. (Charley Harden had hidden himself 
in a pile of gravel behind his father's house, and 
looked like a recently exhumed mummy.) 

There was not the least evidence against us ; 
and, indeed, we were wholly innocent of the offence. 
The trick, as was afterwards proved, had been played 
by a party of soldiers stationed at the fort in the 
harbor. We were indebted for our arrest to Master 
Conway, who had slyly dropped a hint, within the 
hearing of Selectman Mudge, to the effect that 
" young Bailey and his five cronies could tell some- 
thing about them signs." When he was called upon 
to make good his assertion, he was considerably more 
terrified than the Centipedes, though they were ready 
to sink into their shoes. 

At our next meeting it was unanimously resolved 
that Conway's animosity should not be quietly sub- 
mitted to. He had sought to inform against us in 
the stage-coach business ; he had volunteered to carry 
Pettingil's " little bill " for twenty-four ice-creams to 
Charley Marden's father ; and now he had caused ua 



I BECOME AN R. M. C. 



105 



to be arraigned before Justice Clapham on a charge 
equally groundless and painful. After much noisy 
discussion a plan of retaliation was agreed upon. 

There was a certain slim, mild apothecary in the 
town, by the name of Meeks. It was generally 
given out that Mr. Meeks had a vague desire to get 
married, but, being a shy and timorous youth, lacked 
the moral courage to do so. It was also well known 
that the Widow Conway had not buried her heart 
with the late lamented. As to her shyness, that was 
not so clear. Indeed, her attentions to Mr. Meeks, 
whose mother she might have been, were of a nature 
not to be misunderstood, and were not misunderstood 
by any one but Mr. Meeks himself. 

The widow carried on a dress-making establish- 
ment at her residence on the corner opposite Meeks's 
drug-store, and kept a wary eye on all the young 
ladies from Miss Dorothy Gibbs's Female Institute 
who patronized the shop for soda-water, acid-drops, 
and slate-pencils. In the afternoon the widow was 
usually seen seated, smartly dressed, at her window 
up stairs, casting destructive glances across the street, 
— the artificial roses in her cap and her whole lan- 
guishing manner saying as plainly as a label on a 
prescription, " To be Taken Immediately ! " But Mr. 
Meeks did n't take. 

The lady's fondness and the gentleman's blindness 
were topics ably handled at every sewing-circle in 
the town. It was through these two luckless indi- 
viduals that we proposed to strike a blow at the com- 



106 



THE STORY OF A BAD BOY. 



inon enemy. To kill less than three birds with one 
stone did not suit our sanguinary purpose. AYe dis- 
liked the widow not so much for her sentimentality 
as for being the mother of Bill Conway ; we disliked 
Mr. Meeks, not because he was insipid, like his own 
syrups, but because the widow loved him ; Bill Con- 
way we hated for himself. 

Late one dark Saturday night in September we 
carried our plan into effect. On the following morn- 
ing, as the orderly citizens wended their way to 
church past the widow's abode, their sober faces re- 
laxed at beholding over her front door the well- 
known gilt Mortar and Pestle which usually stood 
on the top of a pole on the opposite corner ; while 
the passers on that side of the street were equally 
amused and scandalized at seeing a placard bearing 
the following announcement tacked to the druggist's 
window-shutters : — 



The naughty cleverness of the joke (which I should 
be sorry to defend) was recognized at once. It 
spread like wildfire over the town, and, though the 
mortar and the placard were speedily removed, our 
triumph was complete. The whole community was 
on the broad grin, and our participation in the affair 
seemingly unsuspected. 

It was those wicked soldiers at the fort 




I FIGHT CONWAY. 



107 



CHAPTEE X. 



I FIGHT CONWAY. 



HEEE was one person, 

however, who cherished a 
strong suspicion that the 
Centipedes had had a hand 
in the business ; and that 
person was Conway. His 
red hair seemed to change 
to a livelier red, and his 
sallow cheeks to a deeper 
sallow, as we glanced at 
him stealtliiiy over the tops 
of our slates the next day 
in school. He knew we 
were watching him, and 
made sundry mouths and 
scowled in the most threat- 
ening way over his sums. 

Conway had an accom- 
plishment peculiarly his 
own, — that of throwing his thumbs out of joint at 
will. Sometimes while absorbed in study, or on 
becoming nervous at recitation, he performed the feat 
unconsciously. Throughout this entire morning hi*» 




108 



THE STORY OF A BAD BOY. 



thumbs were observed to be in a chronic state of dis- 
location, indicating great mental agitation on the part 
of the owner. We fuUy expected an outbreak from 
him at recess ; but the intermission passed off tran* 
quilly, somewhat to our disappointment. 

At the close of the afternoon session it happened 
that Binny Wallace and myseK, having got swamped 
in our Latin exercise, were detained in school for the 
purpose of refreshing our memories with a page of 
Mr. Andrews's perplexing irregular verbs. Binny 
Wallace finishing his task first, was dismissed. I fol- 
lowed shortly after, and, on stepping into the play- 
ground, saw my little friend plastered, as it were, up 
against the fence, and Conway standing in front of 
him ready to deliver a blow on the upturned, unpro- 
tected face, whose gentleness would, have stayed any 
arm but a coward's. 

Seth Eodgers, with both hands in his pockets, was 
leaning against the pump lazily enjoying the sport ; 
but on seeing me sweep across the yard, whirling my 
strap of books in the air like a sling, he called out 
lustily, " Lay low, Conway ! here 's young Bailey ! " 

Conway turned just in time to catch on his shoul- 
der the blow intended for his head. He reached 
forward one of his long arms — he had arms hke a 
windmill, that boy — and, grasping me by the hair, 
tore out quite a respectable handful. The tears flew 
to my eyes, but they were not the tears of defeat j 
they were merely the involuntary tribute which na- 
ture paid to the departed tresses. 



I FIGHT CONWAY. 



109 



In a second my little jacket lay on the ground, 
and I stood on guard, resting lightly on my right kg 
and keeping my eye fixed steadily on Conway's, — in 
all of which I was faithfully following the instruc- 
tions of Phil Adams, whose father subscribed to a 
sporting journal. 

Conway also threw himself into a defensive atti- 
tude, and there we were, glaring at each other, mo- 
tionless, neither of us disposed to risk an attack, but 
both on the alert to resist one. There is no telling 
how long we might have remained in that absurd 
position, had we not been interrupted. 

It was a custom with the larger pupils to return to 
the play-ground after school, and play base-ball until 
sundown. The town authorities had prohibited ball- 
playing on the Square, and, there being no other 
available place, the boys feU. back perforce on the 
school-yard. Just at this crisis a dozen or so of the 
Templars entered the gate, and, seeing at a glance 
the belligerent status of Conway and myself, dropped 
bat and ball, and rushed to the spot where we stood. 

" Is it a fight ? " asked Phil Adams, who saw by 
our freshness that we had not yet got to work. 

" Yes, it 's a fight," I answered, " unless Conway 
will ask Wallace's pardon, promise never to hector 
me in future, — and put back my hair ! " 

This last condition was rather a staggerer. 

" I sha' n't do nothing of the sort," said Conway, 
sulkily. 

" Then the thing must go on," said Adams, with 



no 



THE STORY OF A BAD BOY. 



dignity. " Eoclgers, as I understand it, is your sec 
ond, Conway ? Bailey, come here. What 's the row 
about ? " 

" He was thrashing Binny Wallace." 

" No, I was n't," interrupted Conway ; " but I was 
going to, because he knows who put Meeks's mortar 
over our door. And I know well enough who did it ; 
it was that sneaking little mulatter ! " — pointing at 
me. 

" 0, by George ! " I cried, reddening at the insult. 

" Cool is the word," said Adams, as he bound a 
handkerchief round my head, and carefully tucked 
away the long straggling locks that offered a tempt- 
ing advantage to the enemy. " Who ever heard of 
a fellow with such a head of hair going into action ! " 
muttered Phil, twitching the handkerchief to ascer- 
tain if it were securely tied. He then loosened my 
gallowses (braces), and buckled them tightly above 
my hips. " N'ow, then, bantam, never say die ! " 

Conway regarded these business-like preparations 
with evident misgiving, for he called Eodgers to his 
side, and had himself arrayed in a similar manner, 
though his hair was cropped so close that you could 
n't have taken hold of it with a pair of tweezers. 

" Is your man ready ? " asked Phil Adams, address- 
ing Eodgers. 

" Eeady !" 

^'Keep your back to the gate, Tom," whispered 
Phil in my ear, " and you '11 have the sun in his eyes." 
Behold us once more face to face, like David and 



I FIGHT CONWAY. 



Ill 



the Philistine. Look at us as long as you may ; for 
this is all you shall see of the combat. According 
to my thinking, the hospital teaches a better lesson 
than the battle-field. I will tell you -about my black 
eye, and my swollen lip, if you will ; but not a word 
of the fight. 

You '11 get no description of it from me, simply 
because I think it would prove very poor reading, 
and not because I consider my revolt against Con- 
way's tyranny unjustifiable. 

I had borne Conway's persecutions for many months 
with lamb-like patience. I might have shielded my- 
self by appealing to Mr. Grimshaw ; but no boy in 
the Temple Grammar School could do that without 
losing caste. Whether this was just or not does n't 
matter a pin, since it was so, — a traditionary law of 
the place. The personal inconvenience I suffered 
from my tormentor was nothing to the pain he in- 
flicted on me indirectly by his persistent cruelty to 
little Binny Wallace. I should have lacked the spirit 
of a hen if I had not resented it finally. I am glad 
that I faced Conway, and asked no favors, and got 
rid of him forever. I am glad that Phil Adams 
taught me to box, and I say to all youngsters : Learn 
to box, to ride, to pull an oar, and to swim. The 
occasion may come round, when a decent proficiency 
in one or the rest of these accomplishments will be 
of service to you. 

In one of the best books* ever written for boys 
are these words : — 

^ * " Tom Brown's School Days at Rugby." 



112 



THE STORY OF A BAD BOY. 



" Learn to box, then, as you learn to play cricket 
and football. Not one of you will be the worse, but 
very much the better, for learning to box well. Should 
you never have to use it in earnest, there 's no exer- 
cise in the world so good for the temper, and for the 
muscles of the back and legs. 

" As for fighting, keep out of it, if you can, by all 
means. When the time comes, if ever it should, 
that you have to say ' Yes ' or * No ' to a challenge to 
fight, say ' No ' if you can, — only take care you 
make it plain to yourself why you say ' No.' It 's a 
proof of the highest courage, if done from true Chris- 
tian motives : It 's quite right and justifiable, if 
done from a simple aversion to physical pain and 
danger. But don't say ' No ' because you fear a lick- 
ing and say or think it 's because you fear God, for 
that 's neither Christian nor honest. And if you do 
fight, fight it out ; and don't give in while you can 
stand and see." 

And don't give in when you can't ! say I. For I 
could stand very little, and see not at all (having 
pummelled the school-pump for the last twenty 
seconds), when Conway retired from the field. As 
Phil Adams stepped up to shake hands with me, he 
received a telling blow in the stomach ; for all the 
fight was not out of me yet, and I mistook him for a 
new adversary. 

Convinced of my error, I accepted his congratula- 
tions, with those of the other boys, blandly and 
blindly. I remember that Binny Wallace wanted 



I FIGHT CONWAY. 118 



to give me his silver pencil-case. The gentle soul 
had stood throughout the contest with his face turned 
to the fence, suffering untold agony. 

A good wash at the pump, and a cold key applied 
to my eye, refreshed me amazingly. Escorted by 
two or three of the schoolfellows, I walked home 
through the pleasant autumn twilight, battered but 
triumphant. As I went along, my cap cocked on 
one side to keep the chilly air from my eye, I felt 
that I was not only following my nose, but following 
it so closely, that I was in some danger of treading 
on it. I seemed to have nose enough for the whole 
party. My left cheek, also, was puffed out like a 
dumpling. I could n't help saying to myself, " If 
this is victory, how about that other fellow ? " 

" Tom," said Harry Blake, hesitating. 

"Well?" 

"Did you see Mr. Grimshaw looking out of the 
recitation-room window just as we left the yard ? " 
" No ; was he, though ? " 
" I am sure of it." 

" Then he must have seen all the row." 
" Should n't wonder." 

" No, he did n't," broke in Adams, " or he would 
have stopped it short metre ; but I guess he saw you 
pitching into the pump, — which you did uncom- 
monly strong, — and of course he smelt mischief 
directly." 

" Well, it can't be helped now," I reflected. 
. " — As the monkey said when he fell out of the 



114 



THE STORY OF A BAD BOY. 



coco8u-nut tree," added Charley Harden, trying to 
make me laugh. 

It was early candle-light when we reached the 
house. Miss Abigail, opening the front door, started 
back at my hilarious appearance. I tried to smile 
upon her sweetly, but the smile, rippling over my 
swollen cheek, and dying away like a spent wave on 
my nose, produced an expression of which Miss Abi- 
gail declared she had never seen the like excepting 
on the face of a Chinese idol. 

She hustled me unceremoniously into the presence 
of my grandfather in the sitting-room. Captain Nut- 
ter, as the recognized professional warrior of our 
family, could not consistently take me to task for 
fighting Conway ; nor was he disposed to do so ; for 
the Captain was well aware of the long-continued 
provocation I had endured. 

" Ah, you rascal ! " cried the old gentleman, after 
hearing my story, "just like me when I was youngs 
■ — always in one kind of trouble or another. I be- 
lieve it runs in the family." 

" I think," said Miss Abigail, without the faintest 
expression on her countenance, " that a table-spoonx 
ful of hot-dro — " 

The Captain interrupted Miss Abigail peremptorily, 
directing her to make a shade out of card-board and 
black silk, to tie over my eye. Miss Abigail must 
have been possessed vdth. the idea that I had taken 
up pugilism as a profession, for she turned out no 
fewer than six of these blinders. 



I FIGHT CONWAY. 



115 



" They '11 be handy to have in the house," says Miss 
Abigail, grimly. 

Of course, so great a breach of discipline was not 
to be passed over by Mr. Grimshaw. He had, as we 
suspected, witnessed the closing scene of the fight 
from the school-room window, and the next morning, 
after prayers, I was not wholly unprepared when 
Master Conway and myself were called up to the 
desk for examination. Conway, with a piece of court- 
plaster in the shape of a Maltese cross on his right 
cheek, and I with the silk patch over my left eye, 
caused a general titter through the room. 

" Silence ! " said Mr. Grimshaw, sharply. 

As the reader is already familiar with the leading 
points in the case of Bailey versus Conway, I shall 
not report the trial further than to say that Adams, 
Marden, and several other pupils testified to the fact 
that Conway had imposed on me ever since my first 
day at the Temple School. Their evidence also went 
to show that Conway was a quarrelsome character 
generally. Bad for Conway. Seth Eodgers, on the 
part of his friend, proved that I had struck the first 
blow. That was bad for me. 

" If you please, sir," said Binny Wallace, holding 
up his hand for permission to speak, " Bailey did n't 
fight on his own account ; he fought on my account, 
and, if you please, sir, I am the boy to be blamed, 
for I was the cause of the trouble." 

This drew out the story of Conway's harsh treat- 
ment of the smaller boys. As Binny related the wrongs 



116 



THE STORY OF A BAD BOY. 



of his playfellows, saying very little of his own griev- 
ances, I noticed that Mr. Grimshaw's hand, unknown 
to himself perhaps, rested lightly from time to time 
on Wallace's sunny hair. The examination finished, 
Mr. Grimshaw leaned on the desk thoughtfully for a 
moment, and then said : — 

" Every boy in this school knows that it is against 
the rules to fight. If one boy maltreats another, 
within school-bounds, or within school-hours, that is 
a matter for me to settle. The case should be laid 
before me. I disapprove of tale-bearing, I never en- 
courage it in the slightest degree ; but when one 
pupil systematically persecutes a schoolmate, it is the 
duty of some head-boy to inform me. No pupil has 
a right to take the law into his own hands. If there 
is any fighting to be done, I am the person to be con- 
sulted. I disapprove of boys' fighting ; it is unneces- 
sary and unchristian. In the present instance, I con- 
sider every large boy in this school at fault ; but as 
the offence is one of omission rather than commis- 
sion, my punishment must rest only on the two boys 
convicted of misdemeanor. Conway loses his recess 
for a month, and Bailey has a page added to his Latin 
lessons for the next four recitations. I now request 
Bailey and Conway to shake hands in the presence of 
the school, and acknowledge their regret at what has 
occurred." 

Conway and I approached each other slowly and 
cautiously, as if we were bent upon another hostile 
collision. We clasped hands in the tamest manner 



I FIGHT CONWAY. 



117 



imaginable, and Conway mumbled, " I 'm sorry I 
fought with you." 

" I think you are/' I replied, drily, " and I 'm sorry 
I had to thrash you." 

" You can go to your seats," said Mr. Grimshaw, 
turning his face aside to hide a smile. I am sure my 
apology was a very good one. 

I never had any more trouble with Conway. He 
and his shadow, Seth Eodgers, gave me a wide berth 
for many months. Nor was Binny Wallace subjected 
to further molestation. Miss Abigail's sanitary stores, 
including a bottle of opodeldoc, were never called 
into requisition. The six black silk patches, with 
their elastic strings, are still dangling from a beam in 
the garret of the Nutter House, waiting for me to get 
into fresh difficulties. 



118 



THE STORY OF A BAD BOY. 



CHAPTEE XI 



ALL ABOUT GYPSY. 



HIS record of my life at Eiv- 
ermouth would be strangely 
incomplete did I not devote 
an entire chapter to Gyp- 
sy. I had other pets, of 
course; for what healthy 
boy could long exist with- 
out numerous friends in the 
animal kingdom ? I had 
two white mice that were 
forever gnamng their way 
out of a pasteboard chateau, 
and crawling over my face 
when I lay asleep. I used 
to keep the pink-eyed Little 
beggars in my bedroom, 
greatly to the annoyance 
of Miss Abigail, who was 
constantly fancying that one 
of the mice had secreted itself somewhere about her 
person. 

I also owned a dog, a terrier, who managed in some 
inscrutable way to pick a quarrel with the moon, and 




ALL ABOUT GYPSY. 



119 



on bright nights kept up such a ki-yi-ing in our back 
garden, that we were finally forced to dispose of him 
at private sale. He was purchased by Mr. Oxford, 
the butcher. I protested against the arrangement, 
and ever afterwards, when we had sausages from Mr. 
Oxford's shop, I made believe I detected in them 
certain evidences that Cato had been foully dealt 
with. 

Of birds I had no end, — robins, purple-martins, 
wrens, bulfinches, bobolinks, ringdoves, and pigeons. 
At one time I took solid comfort in the iniquitous 
society of a dissipated old parrot, who talked so ter- 
ribly, that the Eev. Wibird Hawkins, happening to 
get a sample of Poll's vituperative powers, pronounced 
him " a benighted heathen," and advised the Captain 
to get rid of him. A brace of turtles supplanted the 
parrot in my affections ; the turtles gave way to rab- 
bits ; and the rabbits in turn yielded to the superior 
charms of a small monkey, which the Capiain bought 
of a sailor lately from the coast of Africa. 

But Gypsy was the prime favorite, in spite of many 
rivals. I never grew weary of her. She was the 
most knowing little thing in the world. Her proper 
sphere in life — and the one to which she ultimately 
attained — was the saw-dust arena of a travelling cir- 
cus. There was nothing short of the three E's, read- 
ing, 'riting, and 'rithmetic, that Gypsy could n't be 
taught. The gift of speech was not hers, but the 
faculty of thought was. 

My little friend, to be sure, was not exempt from 



120 



THE STORY OF A BAD BOY. 



certain graceful weaknesses, inseparable, perhaps, from 
the female character. She was very pretty, and she 
knew it. She was also passionately fond of dress, — 
by which I mean her best harness. When she had 
this on, her curvetings and prancings were laughable, 
though in ordinary tackle she went along demurely 
enough. There was something in the enamelled 
leather and the silver- washed mountings that chimed 
with her artistic sense. To have her mane braided, 
and a rose or a pansy stuck into her forelock, was to 
make her too conceited for anything. 

She had another trait not rare among her sex. She 
liked the attentions of young gentlemen, while the 
society of girls bored her. She would drag them, 
sulkily, in the cart ; but as for permitting one of them 
in the saddle, the idea was preposterous. Once when 
Pepper Whitcomb's sister, in spite of our remon- 
strances, ventured to mount her, Gypsy gave a little 
indignant neigh, and tossed the gentle Emma heels 
over head in no time. But with any of the boys the 
mare was as docile as a lamb. 

Her treatment of the several members of the fam- 
ily was comical. For the Captain she entertained a 
wholesome respect, and was always on her good be- 
havior when he was around. As to Miss Abigail, 
Gypsy simply laughed at her, — literally laughed, 
contracting her upper lip and displaying all her snow- 
white teeth, as if something about Miss Abigail struck 
her, Gjrpsy, as being extremely ridiculous. 

Kitty Collins, for some reason or another, was 



ALL ABOUT GYPSY. 



121 



afraid of the pony, or pretended to be. The saga- 
cious little animal knew it, of course, and frequently, 
when Kitty was hanging out clothes near the stable, 
the mare being loose in the yard, would make short 
plunges at her. Once Gypsy seized the basket of 
clothes-pins with her teeth, and rising on her hind 
legs, pawing the air with her fore feet followed Kitty 
clear up to the scullery steps. 

That part of the yard was shut off from the rest 
by a gate ; but no gate was proof against Gypsy's 
ingenuity. She could let down bars, lift up latches, 
draw bolts, and turn all sorts of buttons. This ac- 
complishment rendered it hazardous for Miss Abigail 
or Kitty to leave any eatables on the kitchen table 
near the window. On one occasion Gypsy put in 
her head and lapped up six custard pies that had 
been placed by the casement to cool. 

An account of my young lady's various pranks 
would fill a thick volume. A favorite trick of hers, 
on being requested to " walk like Miss Abigail," was 
to assume a little skittish gait so true to nature that 
Miss Abigail herself was obliged to admit the clever- 
ness of the imitation. 

The idea of putting Gypsy through a systematic 
course of instruction was suggested to me by a visit 
to the circus which gave an annual performance in 
Eivermouth. This show embraced among its attrac- 
tions a number of trained Shetland ponies, and I 
determined that Gypsy should likewise have the 
benefit of a liberal education. I succeeded in teach- 



122 



THE STORY OF A BAD BOY. 



ing her to waltz, to fire a pistol by tugging at a string 
tied to the trigger, to lie down dead, to wink one eye, 
and to execute many other feats of a difficult nature. 
She took to her studies admirably, and enjoyed the 
whole thing as much as any one. 

The monkey was a perpetual marvel to Gypsy. 
They became bosom-friends in an incredibly brief 
period, and were never easy out of each other's sight. 
Prince Zany — that 's what Pepper Whitcomb and I 
christened him one day, much to the disgust of the 
monkey, who bit a piece out of Pepper's nose — re- 
sided in the stable, and went to roost every night on 
the pony's back, where I usually found him in the 
morning. Whenever I rode out, I was obliged to 
isecure his Highness the Prince with a stout cord to 
the fence, he chattering all the time like a madman. 

One afternoon as I was cantering through the 
crowded part of the town, I noticed that the people 
in the street stopped, stared at me, and fell to laugh- 
ing. I turned round in the saddle, and there was 
Zany, with a great burdock leaf in his paw, perched 
up behind me on the crupper, as solemn as a judge. 

After a few months, poor Zany sickened mysteri- 
ously, and died. The dark thought occurred to me 
then, and comes back to me now with redoubled force, 
that Miss Abigail must have given him some hot- 
drops. Zany left a large circle of sorrowing friends, 
if not relatives. Gjrpsy, I think, never entirely re- 
covered from the shock occasioned by his early demise. 
She became fonder of me, though ; and one of her 



ALL ABOUT GYPSY. 



123 




PRINCE ZANY TAKES A RIDE. 



cunningest demonstrations was to escape from the 
stable-yard, and trot up to the door of the Temple 
Grammar School, where I would discover her at 
recess patiently waiting for me, with her fore feet on 
the second step, and wisps of straw standing out all 
over her, like quills upon the fretful porcupine. 

I should fail if I tried to tell you how dear the 
pony was to me. Even hard, unloving men become 
attached to the horses they take care of ; so I, who 
was neither unloving nor hard, grew to love every 



124 



THE STORY OF A BAD BOY. 



glossy hair of the pretty little creature that depended 
on me for her soft straw bed and her daily modicum 
of oats. In my prayer at night I never forgot to 
mention Gypsy with the rest of the family, — gener- 
ally setting forth her claims first. 

Whatever relates to Gypsy belongs properly to 
this narrative ; therefore I offer no apology for rescu- 
ing from oblivion, and boldly printing here a short 
composition which I wrote in the early part of my first 
qt^arter at the Temple Grammar School. It is my 
maiden effort in a difficult art, and is, perhaps, lack- 
ing in those graces of thought and style which are 
reached only after the severest practice. 

Every Wednesday morning, on entering school, each 
pupil was expected to lay his exercise on Mr. Grim- 
shaw's desk ; the subject was usually selected by Mr. 
Grimshaw himself, the Monday previous. With a 
humor characteristic of him, our teacher had insti- 
tuted two prizes, one for the best and the other for 
the worst composition of the month. The first prize 
consisted of a penknife, or a pencil-case, or some such 
article dear to the heart of youth ; the second prize 
entitled the winner to wear for an hour or two a sort 
of conical paper cap, on the front of which was 
written, in tall letters, this modest admission : I am A 
Dunce ! The competitor who took prize No. 2 was n't 
generally an object of envy. 

My pulse beat high with pride and expectation 
that Wednesday morning, as I laid my essay, neatly 
folded, on the master's table. I firmly decline to say 



ALL ABOUT GYPSY. 



125 



which prize I won ; but here 's the composition to 
speak for itseK : — 

l-^^ .tt^^ ir^^t-^j. 



It is no small-author vanity that induces me to 
publish this stray leaf of natural history. I lay it 
before our young folks, not for their admiration, but 



126 



THE STORY OF A BAD BOY. 



for their criticism. Let each reader take his lead- 
pencil and remorselessly correct the orthography, the 
capitalization, and the punctuation of the essay. I 
shall not feel hurt at seeing my treatise cut all 
to pieces ; though I think highly of the production, 
not on account of its literary excellence, which I can- 
didly admit is not overpowering, but because it was 
written years and years ago about Gypsy, by a little 
fellow who, when I strive to recall him, appears to 
me like a reduced ghost of my present seK. 

I am confident that any reader who has ever had 
pets, birds or animals, will forgive me for this brief 
digression. 



WINTER AT RIVERMOUTH. 127 



CHAPTEK XII. 

WINTER AT RIVERMOUTH. 

GUESS we 're going to 
have a regular old-fash- 
ioned snow-storm," said 
Captain Nutter, one bleak 
December morning, casting 
a peculiarly nautical glance 
skyward. 

The Captain was always 
hazarding prophecies about 
the weather, which some- 
how never turned out ac- 
cording to his prediction. 
The vanes on the church- 
steeples seemed to take 
fiendish pleasure in humil- 
iating the dear old gentle- 
man. If he said it was 
going to be a clear day, a 
dense sea-fog was pretty 
certain to set in before noon. Once he caused a pro- 
tracted drought by assuring us every morning, for 
six consecutive weeks, that it would rain in a few 
hours. But, sure enough, that afternoon it began 
snowing. 




128 



THE STORY OF A BAD BOY. 



Now I had not seen a snow-storm since I was 
eighteen months old, and of course remembered 
nothing about it. A boy familiar from his infancy 
with the rigors of our New England winters can 
form no idea of the impression made on me by this 
natural phenomenon. My delight and surprise were 
as boundless as if the heavy gray sky had let down 
a shower of pond-lilies and white roses, instead of 
snow-flakes. It happened to be a half-holiday, so I 
had nothing to do but watch the feathery crystals 
whirling hither and thither through the air. I stood 
by the sitting-room window gazing at the wonder 
until twilight shut out the novel scene. 

We had had several slight flurries of hail and 
snow before, but this was a regular nor'easter. 

Several inches of snow had already fallen. The 
rose-bushes at the door drooped with the weight of 
their magical blossoms, and the two posts that held 
the garden gate were transformed into stately Turks, 
with white turbans, guarding the entrance to the 
Nutter House. 

The storm increased at sundown, and continued 
with unabated violence through the night. The next 
morning, when I jumped out of bed, the sun was 
shining brightly, the cloudless heavens wore the ten- 
der azure of June, and the whole earth lay muffled 
up to the eyes, as it were, in a thick mantle of milk- 
white down. 

It was a very deep snow. The Oldest Inhabitant 
(what would become of a New England town or vil- 



WINTER AT RIVERMOUTH. 



129 



lage without its oldest inhabitant ? ) overhauled his 
almanacs, and pronounced it the deepest snow we 
had had for twenty years. It could n t have been 
much deeper without smothering us all. Our street 
was a sight to be seen, or, rather, it was a sight not 
to be seen; for very little street was visible. One 
huge drift completely banked up our front door and 
half covered my bedroom window. 

There was no school that day, for all the thorough- 
fares were impassable. By twelve o'clock, however, 
the great snow-ploughs, each drawn by four yokes 
of oxen, broke a wagon-path through the principal 
streets ; but the foot-passengers had a hard time of it 
floundering in the arctic drifts. 

The Captain and I cut a tunnel, three feet wide 
and six feet high, from our front door to the sidewalk 
opposite. It was a beautiful cavern, with its walls 
and roof inlaid with mother-of-pearl and diamonds. 
I am sure the ice palace of the Eussian Empress, in 
Cowper's poem, was not a more superb piece of archi- 
tecture. 

The thermometer began falling shortly before sun- 
set, and we had the bitterest cold night I ever ex- 
perienced. This brought out the Oldest Inhabitant 
again the next day, — and what a gay old boy he was 
for deciding everything ! Our tunnel was turned 
into solid ice. A crust thick enough to bear men 
and horses had formed over the snow everywhere, 
and the air was alive with merry sleigh-bells. Icy 
stalactites, a yard long, hung from the eaves of the 



130 



THE STORY OF A BAD BOY. 



house, and the Turkish sentinels at the gate looked 
as if they had given up all hopes of ever being re- 
lieved from duty. 

So the winter set in cold and glittering. Every- 
thing out of doors was sheathed in silver maO.. To 
quote froin Charley Marden, it was " cold enough to 
freeze the tail off a brass monkey," — an observation 
which seemed to me extremely happy, though I knew 
little or nothing concerning the endurance of brass 
monkeys, having never seen one. 

I had looked forward to the advent of the season 
with grave apprehensions, nerving myself to meet 
dreary nights and monotonous days ; but summer 
itseK was not more jolly than winter at Ei vermouth. 
Snow-balling at school, skating on the Mill Pond, 
coasting by moonlight, long rides behind Gypsy in a 
brand-new little sleigh built expressly for her, were 
sports no less exhilarating than those which belonged 
to the sunny months. And then Thanksgiving ! The 
nose of Memory — why should n't Memory have a 
nose ? — dilates with pleasure over the rich perfume 
of Miss Abigail's forty mince-pies, each one more de- 
lightful than the other, like the Sultan's forty wives. 
Christmas was another red-letter day, though it was 
not so generally observed in New England as it is 
now. 

The great wood-fire in the tiled chimney-place 
made our sitting-room very cheerful of winter nights. 
When the north- wind howled about the eaves, and 
the sharp fingers of the sleet tapped against the win- 



WINTER AT RIVERMOUTH. 



131 



dow-panes, it was nice to be so warmly sheltered 
from the storm. A dish of apples and a pitcher of 
chilly cider were always served during the evening. 
The Captain had a funny way of leaning back in the 
chair, and eating his apple with his eyes closed. 
Sometimes I played dominos with him, and some- 
times Miss Abigail read aloud to us, pronouncing 
" to " toe, and sounding all the eds. 

In a former chapter I alluded to Miss Abigail's 
managing propensities. She had affected many 
changes in the Nutter House before I came there 
to live ; but there was one thing against which she 
had long contended without being able to overcome. 
This was the Captain's pipe. On first taking com- 
mand of the household, she prohibited smoking in 
the sitting-room, where it had been the old gentle- 
man's custom to take a whiff or two of the fragrant 
weed after meals. The edict went forth, — and so 
did the pipe. An excellent move, no doubt; but 
then the house was his, and if he saw fit to keep a 
tub of tobacco burning in the middle of the parlor 
floor, he had a perfect right to do so. However, he 
humored her in this as in other matters, and smoked 
by stealth, like a guilty creature, in the barn, or about 
the gardens. That was practicable in summer, but in 
winter the Captain was hard put to it. When he 
could n't stand it longer, he retreated to his bedroom 
and barricaded the door. Such was the position of 
affairs at the time of which I write. 

One morning, a few days after the great snow^ as 



132 



THE STORY OF A BAD BOY. 



Miss Abigail was dusting the chronometer in the 
hall, she beheld Captain Nutter slowly descending 
the staircase, with a long clay pipe in his mouth. 
Miss Abigail could hardly credit her own eyes. 

" Dan'el ! " she gasped, retiring heavily on the hat- 
rack. 

The tone of reproach with which this word was 
uttered failed to produce the slightest effect on the 
Captain, who merely removed the pipe from his lips 
for an instant, and blew a cloud into the chilly air. 
The thermometer stood at two degrees below zero in 
our hall. 

" Dan'el ! " cried Miss Abigail, hysterically, — 
" Dan'el, don't come near me ! " Whereupon she 
fainted away ; fpr the smell of tobacco-smoke always 
made her deadly sick. 

Kitty Collins rushed from the kitchen with a basin 
of water, and set to work bathing Miss Abigail's tem- 
ples and chafing her hands. I thought my grand- 
father rather cruel, as he stood there with a half-smile 
on his countenance, complacently watching Miss Abi- 
gail's sufferings. When she was "brought to," the 
Captain sat down beside her, and, with a lovely 
twinkle in his eye, said softly : — 

" Abigail, my dear, there was n't any tobacco in that 
pipe I It was a new pipe. I fetched it down for 
Tom to blow soap-bubbles with." 

At these words Kitty Collins hurried away, her 
features working strangely. Several minutes later I 
came upon her in the scullery with the greater por- 



WINTER AT RIVERMOUTH. 



133 



tion of a crash towel stuffed into her mouth. " Miss 
Abygil smelt the terbacca with her oi ! " cried Kitty, 
partially removing the cloth, and then immediately 
stopping herself up again. 

The Captain's joke furnished us — that is, Kitty 
and me — with mirth for many a day ; as to Miss 
Abigail, I think she never wholly pardoned him. 
After this, Captain Nutter gradually gave up smok- 
ing, which is an untidy, injurious, disgraceful, and 
highly pleasant habit. 

A boy's life in a secluded New England town in 
"winter does not afford many points for illustration. 
Of course he gets his ears or toes frost-bitten ; of 
course he smashes his sled against another boy's ; of 
course he bangs his head on the ice ; and he 's a lad 
of no enterprise whatever, if he does n't manage to 
skate into an eel-hole, and be brought home half 
drowned. All these things happened to me ; but, as 
they lack novelty, I pass them over, to tell you about 
the famous snow-fort which we built on Slatter's HilL 



134 THE STORY OF A BAD BOY. 

CHAPTEE XIII. 

THE SNOW FORT ON SLATTER'S HILL. 

HE memory of man, even 
that of the Oldest Inhabi- 
tant, runneth not back to 
the time when there did 
not exist a feud between 
the North End and the 
South End boys of Eiver- 
mouth. 

The origin of the feud 
is involved in mystery ; it 
is impossible to say which 
party was the first aggres- 
sor in the far-off ante-revo- 
lutionary ages ; but the fact 
remains that the youngsters 
of those antipodal sections 
entertained a mortal hatred 
for each other, and that this 
hatred had been handed 
down from generation to generation, like Miles Stand- 
ish's punch-bowl. 

I know not what laws, natural or unnatural, regu- 
lated the warmth of the quarrel ; but at some sea^ 




THE SNOW FORT ON SLATTER'S HILL. 135 

sons it raged more violently than at others. This 
winter both parties were unusually lively and antag- 
onistic. Great was the wrath of the South-Enders, 
when they discovered that the N'orth-Enders had 
thrown up a fort on the crown of Slatter's Hill. 

Slatter's Hill, or No-man's-land, as it was generally 
called, was a rise of ground covering, perhaps, an acre 
and a quarter, situated on an imaginaiy line, marking 
the boundary between the two districts. An im- 
mense stratum of granite, which here and there 
thrust out a wrinkled boulder, prevented the site 
from being used for building purposes. The street 
ran on either side of the hill, from one part of which 
a quantity of rock had been removed to form the 
underpinning of the new jail. This excavation made 
the approach from that point all but impossible, es- 
pecially when the ragged ledges were a-glitter with 
ice. You see what a spot it was for a snow-fort. 

One evening twenty or thirty of the North-Enders 
quietly took possession of Slatter's Hill, and threw up 
a strong line of breastworks, something after this 
shape : — 




The rear of the intrenchment, being protected by 
the quarry, was left open. The walls were four feet 



136 



THE STORY OF A BAD BOY. 



high, and twenty-two inches thick, strengthened at 
the angles by stakes driven firmly into the ground. 

Fancy the rage of the South-Enders the next day, 
when they spied our snowy citadel, with Jack Harris's 
red silk pocket-handkerchief floating defiantly from 
the flag-staff. 

In less than an hour it was known all over town, 
in military circles at least, that the " Puddle-dockers " 
and the " Eiver-rats " (these were the derisive sub-titles 
bestowed on our South-End foes) intended to attack 
the fort that Saturday afternoon. 

At two o'clock all the fighting boys of the Temple 
Grammar School, and as many recruits as we could 
muster, lay behind the walls of Fort Slatter, with 
three hundred compact snow-balls piled up in pyr- 
amids, awaiting the approach of the enemy. The 
enemy was not slow in making his approach, — fifty 
strong, headed by one Mat Ames. Our forces were 
under the command of General J. Harris. 

Before the action commenced, a meeting was ar- 
ranged between the rival commanders, who drew up 
and signed certain rules and regulations respecting 
the conduct of the battle. As it was impossible for 
the North-Enders to occupy the fort permanently, it 
was stipulated that the South-Enders should assault 
it only on Wednesday and Saturday afternoons be- 
tween the hours of two and six. For them to take 
possession of the place at any other time was not to 
constitute a capture, but on the contrary was to be 
considered a dishonorable and cowardly act. 



THE SNOW FOET ON SLATTER'S HILL. 137 

The North-Enders, on the other hand, agreed to 
give up the fort whenever ten of the storming party- 
succeeded in obtaining at one time a footing on the 
parapet, and were able to hold the same for the space 
of two minutes. Both sides were to abstain from 
putting pebbles into their snow-balls, nor was it 
permissible to use frozen ammunition. A snow-ball 
soaked in water and left out to cool was a projectile 
which in previous years had been resorted to with 
disastrous results. 

These preliminaries settled, the commanders retired 
to their respective corps. The interview had taken 
place on the hillside between the opposing lines. 

General Harris divided his men into two bodies ; 
the first comprised the most skiKul marksmen, or 
gunners ; the second, the reserve force, was composed 
of the strongest boys, whose duty it was to repel the 
scaling parties, and to make occasional sallies for the 
purpose of capturing prisoners, who were bound by 
the articles of treaty to faithfully serve under our 
flag until they were exchanged at the close of the 
day. 

The repellers were called light infantry ; but when 
they carried on operations beyond the fort they be- 
came cavalry. It was also their duty, when not oth- 
erwise engaged, to manufacture snow-balls. The G en- 
eral's staff consisted of five Templars (I among the 
number, with the rank of Major), who carried the 
General's orders and looked after the wounded. 

General Mat Ames, a veteran commander, was no 



138 



THE STORY OF A BAD BOY. 



less wide-awake in the disposition of his army. Five 
companies, each numbering but six men, in order not 
to present too big a target to our sharpshooters, were 
to charge the fort from different points, their advance 
being covered by a heavy fire from the gunners posted 
in the rear. Each scaler was provided with only two 
rounds of ammunition, which were not to be used un- 
til he had mounted the breastwork and could deliver 
his shots on our heads. 

The following cut represents the interior of the 
fort just previous to the assault. Nothing on earth 
could represent the state of things after the first 
voUey. 




a. Flagstaff. c. Ammunition / /. Gunners in position 

b. General Harris and his Staff. d. Hospital. g g The quarry. 

e e. Reserve corps. 



The enemy was posted thus : — 

a a The five attacking columns, b b. Artillery, c 



General Ames'3 headquartera 



THE SNOW FORT ON SLATTER'S HILL. 139 

The thrilling moment had now arrived. If I had 
been going into a real engagement I could not have 
been more deeply impressed by the importance of the 
occasion. 

The fort opened fire first, — a single ball from the 
dexterous hand of General Harris taking General 
Ames in the very pit of his stomach. A cheer went 
up from Fort Slatter. In an instant the air was thick 
with flying missiles, in the midst of which we dimly 
descried the storming parties sweeping up the hill, 
shoulder to shoulder. The shouts of the leaders, and 
the snow-balls bursting like shells about our ears, 
made it very lively. 

Not more than a dozen of the enemy succeeded in 
reaching the crest of the hiU ; five of these clam- 
bered upon the icy waUs, where they were instantly 
grabbed by the legs and jerked into the fort. The 
rest retired confused and blinded by our well-directed 
fire. 

When General Harris (with his right eye bunged 
up) said, " Soldiers, I am proud of you ! " my heart 
swelled in my bosom. 

The victory, however, had not been without its 
pi ice. Six North-Enders, having rushed out to har- 
ass the discomfited enemy, were gallantly cut off by 
General Ames and captured. Among these were 
Lieutenant P. Wliitcomb (who had no business to 
join in the charge, being weak in the knees), and 
Captain Fred Langdon, of General Harris's staff. 
Whitcomb was one of the most notable shots on our 



140 



THE STORY OF A BAD BOY. 



side, though he was not much to boast of in a rough- 
and-tumble fight, owing to the weakness before men- 
tioned. General Ames put him among the gunners, 
and we were quickly made aware of the loss we had 
sustained, by receiving a frequent artful ball which 
seemed to light with unerring instinct on any nose 
that was the least bit exposed. I have known one 
of Pepper's snow-balls, fired point-blank, to turn a 
corner and hit a boy who considered himself abso- 
lutely safe. 

But we had no time for vain regrets. The battle 
raged. Already there were two bad cases of black 
eye, and one of nose-bleed, in the hospital. 

It was glorious excitement, those pell-mell on- 
slaughts and hand-to-hand struggles. Twice we were 
within an ace of being driven from our stronghold, 
when General Harris and his staff leaped recklessly 
upon the ramparts and hurled the besiegers heels 
over head down hill. 

At sunset, the garrison of Fort Slatter was still 
unconquered, and the South-Enders, in a solid pha- 
lanx, marched off whistling " Yankee Doodle," while 
we cheered and jeered them until they were out of 
hearing. 

General Ames remained behind to effect an ex- 
change of prisoners. We held thirteen of his men, 
and he eleven of ours. General Ames proposed to 
call it an even thing, since many of his eleven pris- 
oners were officers, while nearly all our thirteen cap- 
tives were privates. A dispute arising on this point, 



THE SNOW FORT ON SLATTER'S HILL. 141 

the two noble generals came to fisticuffs, and in the 
fracas our brave commander got his remaining well 
eye badly damaged. This did n't prevent him from 
writing a general' order the next day, on a slate, in 
which he complimented the troops on their heroic 
behavior. 

On the following Wednesday the siege was re- 
newed. I forget whether it was on that afternoon or 
xhe next that we lost Fort Slatter ; but lose it we did, 
with much valuable ammunition and several men. 
After a series of desperate assaults, we forced General 
Ames to capitulate ; and he, in turn, made the place 
too hot to hold us. So from day to day the tide of 
battle surged to and fro, sometimes favoring our arms, 
and sometimes those of the enemy. 

General Ames handled his men with gTcat skill ; 
his deadliest foe could not deny that. Once he out- 
generalled our commander in the following manner : 
He massed his gunners on our left and opened a brisk 
fire, under cover of which a single company (six men) 
advanced on that angle of the fort. Our reserves on 
the right rushed over to defend the threatened point. 
Meanwhile, four companies of the enemy's scalers 
made a detour round the foot of the hill, and dashed 
into Fort Slatter without opposition. At the same 
moment General Ames's gunners closed in on our 
;eft, and there we were between two fires. Of course 
we had to vacate the fort. A cloud rested on General 
Harris's military reputation until his superior tactics 
enabled him to dispossess the enemy. 



142 



THE STORY OF A BAD BOY. 



As the winter wore on, the war-spirit waxed fiercer 
and fiercer. At length the provision against using 
heavy substances in the snow-balls was disregarded. 
A ball stuck full of sand-bird shot came tearing into 
Fort Slatter. In retaliation, General Harris ordered 
a broadside of shells ; i. e. snow-balls containing mar- 
bles. After this, both sides never failed to freeze their 
ammunition. 

It was no longer child's play to march up to the 
walls of Fort Slatter, nor was the position of the be- 
sieged less perilous. At every assault three or four 
boys on each side were disabled. It was not an in- 
frequent occurrence for the combatants to hold up a 
flag of truce while they removed some insensible 
comrade. 

Matters grew worse and worse. Seven North- 
Enders had been seriously wounded, and a dozen 
South-Enders were reported on the sick list. The 
selectmen of the town awoke to the fact of what was 
going on, and detailed a posse of police to prevent 
further disturbance. The boys at the foot of the hill, 
South-Enders as it happened, finding themselves as- 
sailed in the rear and on the flank, turned round and 
attempted to beat off the watchmen. In this they 
were sustained by numerous volunteers from the 
fort, who looked upon the interference as tyranni- 
cal. 

The watch were determined fellows, and charged 
the boys valiantly, driving them all into the fort, 
where we made common cause, fighting side by side 



THE SNOW FORT ON SLATTER'S HILL. 143 

like the best of friends. In vain the four guardians 
of the peace rushed up the hill, flourishing their clubs 
and calling upon us to surrender. They could not 
get within ten yards of the fort, our fire was so de- 
structive. In one of the onsets a man named Mug- 
ridge, more valorous than his peers, threw himseK 
upon the parapet, when he was seized by twenty 
pairs of hands, and dragged inside the breastwork, 
where fifteen boys sat down on him to keep him 
quiet. 

Perceiving that it was impossible with their small 
number to dislodge us, the watch sent for reinforce- 
ments. Their call was responded to, not only by the 
whole constabulary force (eight men), but by a numer- 
ous body of citizens, who had become alarmed at the 
prospect of a riot. This formidable array brought us 
to our senses : we began to think that maybe discre- 
tion was the better part of valor. General Harris 
and General Ames, with their respective staffs, held a 
council of war in the hospital, and a backward move- 
ment was decided on. So, after one grand farewell 
volley, we fled, sliding, jumping, rolling, tumbling 
down the quarry at the rear of the fort, and escaped 
without losing a man. 

But we lost Fort Slatter forever. Those battle- 
scarred ramparts were razed to the ground, and 
humiliating ashes sprinkled over the historic spot, 
near which a solitary lynx-eyed policeman was seen 
prowling from time to time during the rest of the 
winter. 



144 



THE STORY OF \ BAD BOY. 



The e\'ent passed into a legend, and afterwards, 
when later instances of pluck and endurance were 
spoken of, the boys would say, " By golly ! you ought 
to have been at the fights on Slatter's Hill I *' 



THE CRUISE OF THE DOLPHIN. 145 



CHAPTEE XIV. 

THE CRUISE OF THE DOLPHIN. 

T was spring again. The 
snow had faded away like a 
dream, and we were awak- 
ened, so to speak, by the 
sudden chirping of robins 
in our back garden. Mar- 
vellous transformation of 
snow-drifts into lilacs, won- 
drous miracle of the un- 
folding leaf! We read in 
the Holy Book how our 
Saviour, at the marriage- 
feast, changed the water 
into wine ; we pause and 
wonder; but every hour a 
greater miracle is wrought 
at our very feet, if we have 
but eyes to see it. 

I had now been a year 
at Eivermouth. If you do not know what sort of 
boy I was, it is not because I have n't been frank 
with you. Of my progress at school I say little ; for 
this is a story, pure and simple, and not a treatise on 
7 J 




146 



THE STORY OF A BAD BOY. 



education. Behold me, however, well up in most of 
the classes. I have worn my Latin grammar into 
tatters, and am in the first book of Virgil. I inter- 
lard my conversation at home with easy quotations 
from that poet, and impress Captain Nutter with a 
lofty notion of my learning. I am likewise trans- 
lating Les Aventures de Telemaque from the French, 
and shall tackle Blair's Lectures the next term. I 
am ashamed of my crude composition about The 
Horse, and can do better now. Sometimes my head 
almost aches with the variety of my knowledge. I 
consider Mr. Grimshaw the greatest scholar that ever 
lived, and I don't know which I would rather be, — 
a learned man like him, or a circus -rider. 

My thoughts revert to this particular spring more 
frequently than to any other period of my boy- 
hood, for it was marked by an event that left an in- 
delible impression on my memory. As I pen these 
pages, I feel that I am writing of something which 
happened yesterday, so vividly it all comes back 
to me. 

Every Kivermouth boy looks upon the sea as being 
in some way mixed up with his destiny. While he 
is yet a baby lying in his cradle, he hears the dull, 
far-off boom of the breakers ; when he is older, he 
wanders by the sandy shore, watching the waves that 
come plunging up the beach like white-maned sea- 
horses, as Thoreau calls them ; his eye follows the 
lessening sail as it fades into the blue horizon, and 
he burns for the time when he shall stand on the 



THE CRUISE OF THE DOLPHIN. 



147 



quarter-deck of his own ship, and go sailing proudly 
across that mysterious waste of waters. 

Then the town itself is full of hints and flavors 
of the sea. The gables and roofs of the houses facing 
eastward are covered with red rust, like the flukes of 
old anchors ; a salty smell pervades the air, and dense 
gray fogs, the very breath of Ocean, periodically creep 
up into the quiet streets and envelop everything. The 
terrific storms that lash the coast ; the kelp and spars, 
and sometimes the bodies of drowned men, tossed 
on shore by the scornful waves ; the shipyards, the 
wharves, and the tawny fleet of fishing-smacks yearly 
fitted out at Eivermouth, — these things, and a hun- 
dred other, feed the imagination and fill the brain of 
every healthy boy with dreams of adventure. He 
learns to swim almost as soon as he can walk ; he 
draws in with his mother's milk the art of handling 
an oar : he is born a sailor, whatever he may turn 
out to be afterwards. 

To own the whole or a portion of a row-boat is his 
earliest ambition. No wonder that I, born to this 
life, and coming back to it with freshest sympathies, 
should have caught the prevailing infection. No 
wonder I longed to buy a part of the trim little sail- 
boat Dolphin, which chanced just then to be in the 
market. This was in the latter part of May. 

Three shares, at five or six dollars each, I forget 
which, had already been taken by Phil Adams, Fred 
Langdon, and Binny Wallace. The fourth and re- 
maining share hung fire. Unless a purchaser could 
be found for this, the bargain was to fall through. 



148 



THE STORY OF A BAD BOY. 



I am afraid. I required but slight urging to join in 
the investment. I had four dollars and fifty cents on 
hand, and the treasurer of the Centipedes advanced 
me the balance, receiving my silver pencil-case as 
ample security. It was a proud moment when I 
stood on the wharf with my partners, inspecting the 
Dolphin, moored at the foot of a very slippery flight 
of steps. She was painted white with a green stripe 
outside, and on the stern a yellow dolphin, with its 
scarlet mouth wide open, stared with a surprised ex- 
pression at its own reflection in the water. The boat 
was a great bargain. 

I whirled my cap in the air, and ran to the stairs 
leading down from the wharf, when a hand was laid 
gently on my shoulder. I turned, and faced Captain 
Nutter. I never saw such an old sharp-eye as he 
was in those days. 

I knew he would n't be angry with me for buying 
a row-boat ; but I also knew that the little bowsprit 
suggesting a jib, and the tapering mast ready for its 
few square feet of canvas, were trifles not likely to 
meet his approval. As far as rowing on the river, 
among the wharves, was concerned, the Captain had 
long since withdrawn his decided objections, having 
convinced himself, by going out with me several 
times, that I could manage a pair of sculls as well as 
anybody. 

I was right in my surmises. He commanded me, 
in the most emphatic terms, never to go out in the 
Dolphin without leaving the mast in the boat-housa 



THE CRUISE OF THE DOLPHIN. 



149 



This curtailed my anticipated sport, but the pleasure 
of having a pull whenever I wanted it remained. I 
Dever disobeyed the Captain's orders touching the 
sail, though I sometimes extended my row beyond 
the points he had indicated. 

The river was dangerous for sail-boats. Squalls, 
without the slightest warning, were of frequent oc- 
currence ; scarcely a year passed that six or seven 
persons were not drowned under the very windows 
of the town, and these, oddly enough, were generally 
sea-captains, who either did not understand the river, 
or lacked the skill to handle a small craft. 

A knowledge of such disasters, one of which I wit- 
nessed, consoled me somewhat when I saw Phil Ad- 
ams skimming over the water in a spanking breeze 
with every stitch of canvas set. There were few bet- 
ter yachtsmen than Phil Adams. He usually went 
sailing alone, for both Fred Langdon and Binny Wal- 
lace were under the same restrictions I was. 

Not long after the purchase of the boat, we planned 
an excursion to Sandpeep Island, the last of the isl- 
ands in the harbor. We proposed to start early in 
the morning, and return with the tide in the moon- 
light. Our only difficulty was to obtain a whole 
day's exemption from school, the customary haK-holi- 
day not being long enough for our picnic. Somehow, 
we could n't work it; but fortune arranged it for 
us. I may say here, that, whatever else I did, I 
never played truant (" hookey " we called it) in my 
Ufa. 



150 



THE STORY OF A BAD BOY". 



One afternoon the four owners of the Dolphin ex- 
changed significant glances when Mr. Grimshaw an- 
nounced from the desk that there would be no school 
the following day, he having just received intelli- 
gence of the death of his uncle in Boston. I was 
sincerely attached to Mr. Grimshaw, but I am afraid 
that the death of his uncle did not affect me as it 
ought to have done. 

We were up before sunrise the next morning, in 
order to take advantage of the flood tide, which waits 
for no man. Our preparations for the cruise were 
made the previous evening. In the way of eatables 
and drinkables, we had stored in the stern of the 
Dolphin a generous bag of hard-tack (for the chow- 
der), a piece of pork to fry the cunners in, three 
gigantic apple-pies (bought at Pettingil's), half a 
dozen lemons, and a keg of spring- water, — the last- 
named article we slung over the side, to keep it cool, 
as soon as we got under way. The crockery and the 
bricks for our camp-stove we placed in the bows 
with the groceries, which included sugar, pepper, 
salt, and a bottle of pickles. Phil Adams contributed 
to the outfit a small tent of unbleached cotton cloth, 
under which we intended to take our nooning. 

We unshipped the mast, threw in an extra oar, and 
were ready to embark. I do not believe that Chris- 
topher Columbus, when he started on his rather suc- 
cessful voyage of discovery, felt half the responsibility 
and importance that weighed upon me as I sat on the 
middle seat of the Dolphin, with my oar resting in 



THE CRUISE OF THE DOLPHIN. 151 



the row-lock. I wonder if Christopher Columbus 
quietly slipped out of the house without letting his 
estimable family know what he was up to ? 

Charley Harden, whose father had promised to cane 
him if he ever stepped foot on sail or row boat, came 
down to the wharf in a sour-grape humor, to see us 
off. Nothing would tempt him to go out on the 
river in such a crazy clam-shell of a boat. He pre- 
tended that he did not expect to behold us alive 
again, and tried to throw a wet blanket over the 
expedition. 

" Guess you 'II have a squally time of it," said 
Charley, casting off the painter. " I '11 drop in at 
old Newbury's " (Newbury was the parish under- 
taker) " and leave word, as I go along ! " 

" Bosh ! " muttered Phil Adams, sticking the boat- 
hook into the string-piece of the wharf, and sending 
the Dolphin half a dozen yards towards the current. 

How calm and lovely the river was ! Not a ripple 
stirred on the glassy surface, broken only by the 
sharp cutwater of our tiny craft. The sun, as round 
and red as an August moon, was by this time peering 
above the water-line. 

The town had drifted behind us, and we were 
entering among the group of islands. Sometimes 
we could almost touch with our boat-hook the shelv- 
ing banks on either side. As we neared the mouth 
of the harbor, a little breeze now and then wrinkled 
'the blue water, shook the spangles from the foliage, 
and gently lifted the spiral mist-wreaths that still 



152 



THE STORY OF A BAD BOY. 



clung along shore. The measured dip of our oars 
and the drowsy twitterings of the birds seemed to 
mingle with, rather than break, the enchanted silence 
that reigned about us. 

The scent of the new clover comes back to me 
now, as I recall that delicious morning when we 
floated away in a fairy boat down a river like a 
dream ! 

The sun was well up when the nose of the Dolphin 
nestled against the snow-white bosom of Sandpeep 
Island. This island, as I have said before, was the 
last of the cluster, one side of it being washed by 
the sea. We landed on the river side, the sloping 
sandw and quiet water affording us a good place to 
moor the boat. 

It took us an hour or two to transport our stores 
to the spot selected for the encampment. Having 
pitched our tent, using the five oars to support the 
canvas, we got out our lines, and went down the rocks 
seaward to fish. It was early for cunners, but we 
were lucky enough to catch as nice a mess as ever 
you saw. A cod for the chowder was not so easily 
secured. At last Binny Wallace hauled in a plump 
little fellow crusted all over with flaky silver. 

To skin the fish, build our fireplace, and cook the 
chowder kept us busy the next two hours. The fresh 
air and the exercise had given us the appetites of 
wolves, and we were about famished by the time the 
savory mixture was ready for our clam-shell saucers. 

I shall not insult the rising generation on the 



THE CEUISE OF THE DOLPHIN. 



153 



seaboard by telling them how delectable is a chowder 
compounded and eaten in this Eobinson Crusoe fash- 
ion. As for the boys who live inland, and know 
naught of such marine feasts, my heart is full of pity 
for them. What wasted lives ! Not to know the 
delights of a clam-bake, not to love chowder, to be 
ignorant of lob-scouse ! 

How happy we were, we four, sitting cross-legged 
in the crisp salt grass, with the invigorating sea-breeze 
blowing gratefully through our hair ! What a joyous 
thing was life, and how far off seemed death, — death, 
that lurks in all pleasant places, and was so near ! 

The banquet finished, Phil Adams drew from his 
pocket a handful of sweet-fern cigars ; but as none 
of the party could indulge without imminent risk 
of becoming sick, we all, on one pretext or another, 
declined, and Phil smoked by himself. 

The wind had freshened by this, and we found it 
comfortable to put on the jackets which had been 
thrown aside in the heat of the day. We strolled 
along the beach and gathered large quantities of the 
fairy-woven Iceland moss, which, at certain seasons^ 
is washed to these shores ; then we played at ducks 
and drakes, and then, the sun being sufficiently low^ 
we went in bathing. 

Before our bath was ended a slight change had 
come over the sky and sea ; fleecy- white clouds scudded 
here and there, and a muffled moan from the breakers 
caught our ears from time to time. While we were 
dressing, a few hurried drops of rain came lisping 



154 



THE STORY OF A BAD BOY. 



down, and we adjourned to the tent to await the pass- 
ing of the squall. 

" We 're all right, anyhow," said Phil Adams. " It 
won't be much of a blow, and we '11 be as snug as a 
bug in a rug, here in the tent, particularly if we have 
that lemonade which some of you fellows were going 
to make." 

By an oversight, the lemons had been left in the 
boat. Binny Wallace volunteered to go for them. 

" Put an extra stone on the painter, Binny," said 
Adams, calling after him ; " it would be awkward to 
have the Dolphin give us the slip and return to port 
minus her passengers." 

" That it would," answered Binny, scrambling down 
the rocks. 

Sandpeep Island is diamond-shaped, — one point 
running out into the sea, and the other looking to- 
wards the town. Our tent was on the river-side. 
Though the Dolphin was also on the same side, it lay 
out of sight by the beach at the farther extremity of 
the island. 

Binny Wallace had been absent five or six minutes, 
when we heard him calling our several names in tones 
that indicated distress or surprise, we could not tell 
which. Our first thought was, " The boat has broken 
adrift!" 

We sprung to our feet and hastened down to the 
beach. On turning the bluff which hid the mooring- 
place from our view, we found the conjecture correct, 
Not only was the Dolphin afloat, but poor little Bin- 



THE CRUISE OF THE DOLPHIN. 



155 



ny Wallace was standing in the bows with his arms 
stretched helplessly towards us, — drifting out to 
sea ! 

Head the boat in shore !" shouted Phil Adams. 
Wallace ran to the tiller ; but the slight cockle- 
shell merely swung round and drifted broadside on. 
0, if we had but left a single scull in the Dolphin ! 




DRIFTING AWAY. 



" Can you swim it ? " cried Adams, desperately, using 
his hand as a speaking-trumpet, for the distance be- 
tween the boat and the island widened momently. 



156 



THE STORY OF A BAD BOY. 



Binny Wallace looked down at the sea, which was 
covered with white caps, and made a despairing ges- 
ture. He knew, and we knew, that the stoutest 
swimmer could not live forty seconds in those angry 
waters. 

A wild, insane light came into Phil Adams's eyes, 
as he stood knee-deep in the boiling surf, and for an 
instant I think he meditated plunging into the ocean 
after the receding boat. 

The sky darkened, and an ugly look stole rapidly 
over the broken surface of the sea. 

Binny Wallace half rose from his seat in the stern, 
and waved his hand to us in token of farewell. In 
spite of the distance, increasing every instant, we 
could see his face plainly. The anxious expression 
it wore at first had passed. It was pale and meek 
now, and I love to think there was a kind of halo 
about it, like that which painters place around the 
forehead of a saint. So he drifted away. 

The sky grew darker and darker. It was only by 
straining our eyes through the unnatural twilight 
that we could keep the Dolphin in sight. The figure 
of Binny Wallace was no longer visible, for the boat 
itself had dwindled to a mere white dot on the black 
water. Now we lost it, and our hearts stopped throb- 
bing ; and now the speck appeared again, for an in- 
stant, on the crest of a high wave. 

Finally, it went out like a spark, and we saw it no 
more. Then we gazed at each other, and dared not 
speak. 



THE CRUISE OF THE DOLPHIN. 



157 



Absorbed in following the course of the boat, we 
had scarcely noticed the huddled inky clouds that 
sagged down all around us. From these threatening 
masses, seamed at intervals with pale lightning, there 
now burst a heavy peal of thunder that shook the 
ground under our feet. A sudden squall struck the 
sea, ploughing deep white furrows into it, and at the 
same instant a single piercing shriek rose above the 
tempest, — the frightened cry of a gull swooping 
over the island. How it startled us ! 

It was impossible any longer to keep our footing 
on the beach. The wind and the breakers would 
have swept us into the ocean if we had not clung to 
each other with the desperation of drowning men. 
Taking advantage of a momentary lull, we crawled 
up the sands on our hands and knees, and, pausing 
in the lee of the granite ledge to gain breath, returned 
to the camp, where we found that the gale had snapped 
all the fastenings of the tent but one. Held by this, 
the puffed-out canvas swayed in the wind like a bal- 
loon. It was a task of some difficulty to secure it, 
which we did by beating down the canvas with the 
oars. 

After several trials, we succeeded in setting up the 
tent on the leeward side of the ledge. Blinded by 
the vivid flashes of lightning, and drenched by the 
rain, which fell in torrents, we crept, half dead with 
fear and anguish, under our flimsy shelter. Neither 
the anguish nor the fear was on our own account, for 
we were comparatively safe, but for poor little Binny 



158 



THE STORY OF A BAD BOY. 



Wallace, driven out to sea in xlie merciless gale. We 
eliuddered to think of him in that frail shell, drifting 
on and on to his grave, the sky rent with lightning 
over his head, and the green abysses yawning beneath 
Inm. We fell to crying, the three of us, and cried I 
know not how long. 

Meanwhile the storm raged with augmented fury. 
We were obliged to hold on to the ropes of the tent 
to prevent \t blowing away. The spray from the 
river leaped several yards up the rocks and clutched 
at us malignantly. The very island trembled with 
the concussions of the sea beating upon it, and at 
times I fancied that it had broken loose from its 
foundation, and was floating off with us. The break- 
ers, streaked with angry phosphorus, were fearful to 
look at. 

The wind rose higher and higher, cutting long slits 
in the tent, through which the rain poured inces- 
santly. To complete the sum of our miseries, the 
night was at hand. It came down suddenly, at last, 
like a curtain, shutting in Sandpeep Island from aU 
the world. 

It was a dirty night, as the sailors say. The dark- 
ness was something that could be felt as well as seen, 
— it pressed down upon one with a cold, clammy 
touch. Gazing into the hoUow blackness, all sorts 
of imaginable shapes seemed to start forth from va- 
cancy, — brilliant colors, stars, prisms, and dancing 
hghts. What boy, lying awake at night, has not 
amused or terrified himself by peopling the spaces 



THE CRUISE OF THE DOLPHIN. 



159 



around his bed with these phenomena of hi« own 
eyes? 

" I say," whispered Fred Langdon, at length, clutch- 
ing my hand, " don't you see things — out there — in- 
the dark ? " 

" Yes, yes, — Binny Wallace's face ! " 

I added to my own nervousness by making this 
avowal ; though for the last ten minutes I had seen 
little besides that star-pale face with its angelic hair 
and brows. First a slim yellow circle, like the nim- 
bus round the moon, took shape and grew sharp 
against the darkness ; then this faded gradually, and 
there was the Face, wearing the same sad, sweet look 
it wore when he waved his hand to us across the awful 
water. This optical illusion kept repeating itself 

" And I too," said Adams. " I see it every now 
and then, outside there. What would n't I give if it 
really was poor little Wallace looking in at us ! 
boys, how shall we dare to go back to the town with- 
out him ? I 've wished a hundred times, since we Ve 
been sitting here, that I was in his place, alive or 
. dead.f" 

We dreaded the approach of morning as much as 
we longed for it. The morning would tell us all. 
Was it possible for the Dolphin to outride such a 
storm ? There was a light-house on Mackerel Reef, 
which lay directly in the course the boat had taken, 
when it disappeared. If the Dolphin had caught on 
this reef, perhaps Binny Wallace was safe. Perhaps 
his cries had been heard by the keeper of the light 



160 



THE STORY OF A BAD BOY. 



The man owned a life-boat, and had rescued several 
people. Who could tell ? 

Such were the questions we asked ourselves again 
and again, as we lay in each other's arms waiting for 
daybreak. What an endless night it was ! I have 
known months that did not seem so long. 

Our position was irksome rather than perilous ; lor 
the day was certain to bring us relief from the town, 
where our prolonged absence, together with the storm, 
had no doubt excited the liveliest alarm for our safety. 
But the cold, the darkness, and the suspense were 
hard to bear. 

Our soaked jackets had chilled us to the bone. 
To keep warm, we lay huddled together so closely 
that we could hear our hearts beat above the tumult 
of sea and sky. 

After a while we grew very hungry, not having 
broken our fast since early in the day. The rain had 
turned the hard-tack into a sort of dough ; but it was 
better than nothing. 

We used to laugh at Fred Langdon for always car- 
rying in his pocket a small vial of essence of pepper- 
mint or sassafras, a few drops of which, sprinkled on 
a lump of loaf-sugar, he seemed to consider a great 
luxury. I don't know what would have become of 
us at this crisis, if it had n't been for that omnipresent 
bottle of hot stuff. We poured the stinging liquid 
3ver our sugar, which had kept dry in a sardine-box, 
and warmed ourselves with frequent doses. 

After four or five hours the rain ceased, the wind 



THE CRUISE OF THE DOLPHIN. 



161 



died away to a moan, and the sea — no longer raging 
like a maniac — sobbed and sobbed with a piteous 
human voice all along the coast. And well it might, 
after that night's work. Twelve sail of the Glouces- 
ter fishing fleet had gone down with every soul on 
board, just outside of Whale's-back Light. Think of 
the wide grief that follows in the wake of one wreck ; 
tlien think of the despairing women who wrung their 
hands and wept, the next morning, in the streets of 
Gloucester, Marblehead, and ^^'ewcastle ! 

Though our strength was nearly spent, we were too 
cold to sleep. Once I sunk into a troubled doze, 
when I seemed to hear Charley Harden' s parting 
words, only it was the Sea that said them. After 
that I threw off the drowsiness whenever it threat- 
ened to overcome me. 

Fred Langdon was the earliest to discover a filmy, 
luminous streak in the sky, the first glimmering of 
sunrise. 

" Look, it is nearly daybreak ! " 

While we were following the direction of his fin- 
ger, a sound of distant oars fell on our ears. 

We listened breathlessly, and as the dip of the 
blades became more audible, we discerned two foggy 
lights, like will-o'-the-wisps, floating on the river. 

Eunning down to the water's edge, we hailed the 
boats with all our might. The call w^as heard, for 
the oars rested a moment in the row-locks, and then 
pulled in towards the island. 

It was two boats from the town, in the foremost 



162 THE STORY OF A BAD BOY. 

of which we could now make out the figures of Cap- 
tain Nutter and Binny Wallace's father. We shrunk 
back on seeing him. 

" Thank God ! " cried Mr. Wallace, fervently, as he 
leaped from the wherry without waiting for the bow 
to touch the beach. 

But when he saw only three boys standing on the 
sands, his eye wandered restlessly about in quest of 
the fourth ; then a deadly pallor overspread his fea- 
tures. 

Our story was soon told. A solemn silence fell 
upon the crowd of rough boatmen gathered round, 
interrupted only by a stifled sob from one poor old 
man, who stood apart from the rest. 

The sea was still running too high for any small 
boat to venture out; so it was arranged that the 
wherry should take us back to town, leaving the 
yawl, with a picked crew, to hug the island until 
daybreak, and then set forth in search of the Dolphin. 

Though it was barely sunrise when we reached 
town, there were a great many people assembled 
at the landing eager for intelligence from missing 
boats. Two picnic parties had started down river the 
day before, just previous to the gale, and nothing 
had been heard of them. It turned out that the 
pleasure-seekers saw their danger in time, and ran 
ashore on one of the least exposed islands, where 
they passed the night. Shortly after our own arrival 
they appeared off Ei vermouth, much to the joy of 
their friends, in two shattered, dismasted boats. 



THE CRUISE OF THE DOLPHIN. 



163 



The excitement over, I was in a forlorn state, phys- 
ically and mentally. Captain Nutter put me to bed 
between hot blankets, and sent Kitty Collins for the 
doctor. I was wandering in my mind, and fancied 
myself still on Sandpeep Island : now we were build- 
ing our brick-stove to cook the chowder, and, in my 
delirium, I laughed aloud and shouted to my com- 
rades ; now the sky darkened, and the squall struck 
the island : now I gave orders to Wallace how to 
manage the boat, and now I cried because the rain 
was pouring in on me through the holes in the tent. 
Towards evening a high fever set in, and it was many 
days before my grandfather deemed it prudent to tell 
me that the Dolphin had been found, floating keel 
upwards, four miles southeast of Mackerel Eeef. 

Poor little Binny Wallace ! How strange it seemed, 
when I went to school again, to see that empty seat 
in the fifth row ! How gloomy the playground was, 
lacking the sunshine of his gentle, sensitive face ! 
One day a folded sheet slipped from my algebra ; it 
was the last note he ever wrote me. I could n't read 
it for the tears. 

What a pang shot across my heart the afternoon it 
was whispered through the town that a body had 
been washed ashore at Grave Point, — the place 
where we bathed. We bathed there no more ! How 
well I remember the funeral, and what a piteous 
sight it was afterwards to see his familiar name on 
a small headstone in the Old South Burying Ground ! 

Poor little Binny W allace ! Always the same to 



1G4 



THE STORY OF A BAD BOY. 



me. The rest of us have grown up into hard, world- 
ly men, figliting the fight of life ; but you are forever 
young, and gentle, and pure ; a part of my own 
childhood that time cannot wither; always a little 
boy. always poor little Binny Wallace ! 



AN OLD ACQUAINTANCE TURNS UP. 



165 



CHAPTEE XV. 



AN OLD ACQUAINTANCE TURNS UP. 



YEAE had stolen by since 
the death of Binny Wal- 
lace, — a year of which I 
have nothing important to 
record. 

The loss of our little 
playmate threw a shadow- 
over our young lives for 
many and many a month. 
The Dolphin rose and fell 
with the tide at the foot of 
the slippery steps, unused, 
the rest of the summer. 
At the close of November 
we hauled her sadly into 
the boat-house for the win- 
ter ; but when spring came 
round we launched the Dol- 
phin again, and often went 
down to the wharf and looked at her lying in the 
tangled eel-grass, without much inclination to take a 
row. The associations connected with the boat were 
too painful as yet ; but time, which wears the sharp 




166 



THE STORY OF A BAD BOY. 



edge from everything, softened this feeling, and one 
afternoon we brought out the cobwebbed oars. 

The ice once broken, brief trips along the wharves 
■ — we seldom cared to go out into the river now — 
became one of our chief amusements. Meanwhile 
Gypsy was not forgotten. Every clear morning I 
was in the saddle before breakfast, and there are few 
roads or lanes within ten miles of Eivermouth that 
have not borne the print of her vagrant hoof. 

I studied like a good fellow this quarter, carrying 
off a couple of first prizes. The Captain expressed 
his gratification by presenting me with a new silver 
dollar. If a dollar in his eyes was smaller than a 
cart-wheel, it was n't so very much smaller. I re- 
deemed my pencil-case from the treasurer of the 
Centipedes, and felt that I was getting on in the 
world. 

It was at this time I was greatly cast down by a 
letter from my father saying that he should be unable 
to visit Eivermouth until the following year. With 
that letter came another to Captain Nutter, which he 
did not read aloud to the family, as usual. It was 
on business, he said, folding it up in his waUet. He 
received several of these business letters from time 
to time, and I noticed that they always made him 
silent and moody. 

The fact is, my father's banking-house was not 
thriving. The unlooked-for failure of a firm largely 
indebted to him had crippled "the house." When 
the Captain imparted this information to me I did n't 



AN OLD ACQUAINTANCE TURNS UP. 167 

trouble myself over the matter. I supposed — if I 
supposed anything — that all grown-up people had 
more or less money, when they wanted it. Whether 
they inherited it, or whether government supplied 
them, was not clear to me. A loose idea that my 
father had a private gold-mine somewhere or other 
relieved me of all uneasiness. 

I was not far from right. Every man has within 
himself a gold-mine whose riches are limited only by 
his own industry. It is true, it sometimes happens 
that industry . does not avail, if a man lacks that 
something which, for want of a better name, we call 
Luck. My father was a person of untiring energy 
and ability ; but he had no luck. To use a Eiver- 
mouth saying, he was always catching sculpins when 
every one else with the same bait was catching mack- 
erel. 

It was more than two years since I had seen my 
parents. I felt that I could not bear a longer separa- 
tion. Every letter from New Orleans — we got two 
or three a month — gave me a fit of homesickness ; 
and when it was definitely settled that my father and 
mother were to remain in the South another twelve- 
month, I resolved to go to them. 

Since Binny Wallace's death. Pepper AVhitcomb 
had been my fidus Achates ; we occupied desks near 
each other at school, and were always together in play 
hours. We rigged a twine telegraph from his garret 
window to the scuttle of the ]N"utter House, and sent 
messages to each other in a match-box. We shared 



168 



THE STORY OF A BAD BOY. 



our pocket-money and our secrets, — those amazing 
secrets which boys have. We met in lonely places 
by stealth, and parted like conspirators ; we could n't 
buy a jackknife or build a kite without throwing an 
air of mystery and guilt over the transaction. 

I naturally hastened to lay my New Orleans pro- 
ject before Pepper Whitcomb, having dragged him 
for that purpose to a secluded spot in the dark pine 
woods outside the town. Pepper listened to me with 
a gravity which he will not be able to surpass when 
he becomes Chief Justice, and strongly advised me 
to go. 

"The summer vacation," said Pepper, "lasts six 
weeks ; that will give you a fortnight to spend in 
New Orleans, allowing two weeks each way for the 
journey." 

I wrung his hand and begged him to accompany 
me, offering to defray all the expenses. I was n't 
anything if I was n't princely in those days. After 
considerable urging, he consented to go on terms so 
liberal. The whole thing was arranged; there was 
nothing to do now but to advise Captain Nutter of 
my plan, which I did the next day. 

The possibility that he might oppose the tour never 
entered my head. I was therefore totally unpre- 
pared for the vigorous negative which met my pro- 
posal. I was deeply mortified, moreover, for there was 
Pepper Whitcomb on the wharf, at the foot of the 
street, waiting for me to come and let him know 
what day we were to start. 



AN OLD ACQUAINTANCE TUKNS UP. 



169 



" Go to New Orleans ? Go to Jericho ! " exclaimed 
Captain Nutter. " You 'd look pretty, you two, phi- 
landering off, like the babes in the wood, twenty-five 
hundred miles, ' with all the world before you where 
to choose ' ! " 

And the Captain's features, which had worn an 
indignant air as he began the sentence, relaxed into 
a broad smile. Whether it was at the felicity of his 
own quotation, or at the mental picture he drew of 
Pepper and myseK on our travels I could n't tell, and 
I did n't care. I was heart-broken. How could I 
face my chum after all the dazzling inducements I 
had held out to him ? 

My grandfather, seeing that I took the matter seri- 
ously, pointed out the difficulties of such a journey 
and the great expense involved. He entered into the 
details of my father's money troubles, and succeeded 
in making it plain to me that my wishes, under the 
circumstances, were somewhat unreasonable. It was 
in no cheerful mood that I joined Pepper at the end 
of the wharf 

I found that young gentleman leaning against the 
bulkhead gazing intently towards the islands in the 
harbor. He had formed a telescope of his hands, and 
was so occupied with his observations as to be obliv- 
ious of my approach. 

" Hullo ! " cried Pepper, dropping his hands. 
" Look there I is n't that a bark coming up the Nar- 
rows ? " 

" Where?" 



170 



THE STORY OP A BAD BOY. 



" Just at the left of Fish crate Island. Don't you 
see the foremast peeping above the old derrick ? " 

Sure enough it was a vessel of considerable size, 
slowly beating up to town. In a few moments more 
the other two masts were visible above the green 
hillocks. 

" Fore-topmasts blown away," said Pepper. " Put- 
ting in for repairs, I guess." 

As the bark lazily crept from behind the last of 
the islands, she let go her anchors and swung round 
with the tide. Then the gleeful chant of the sailors 
■at the capstan came to us pleasantly across the water. 
The vessel lay within three quarters of a mile of us, 
and we could plainly see the men at the davits low- 
ering the starboard long-boat. It no sooner touched 
the stream than a dozen of the crew scrambled like 
mice over the side of the merchantman. 

In a neglected seaport like Eivermouth the arrival 
of a large ship is an event of moment. The pros- 
pect of having twenty or thirty jolly tars let loose on 
the peaceful town excites divers emotions among the 
inhabitants. The small shopkeepers along the wharves 
anticipate a thriving trade ; the proprietors of the 
two rival boarding-houses — the " Wee Drop " and 
the " Mariner's Home " — hasten down to the landing 
to secure lodgers ; and the female population of An- 
chor Lane turn out to a woman, for a ship fresh from 
sea is always full of possible husbands and long-lost 
prodigal sons. 

But aside from this there is scant welcome given 



AN OLD ACQUAINTANCE TURNS UP. 171 



fco a ship's crew in Rivermouth. The toil-worn mar- 
iner is a sad fellow ashore, judging him by a severe 
moral standard. 

Once, I remember, a United States frigate came 
into port for repairs after a storm. She lay in the 
river a fortnight or more, and every day sent us a 
gang of sixty or seventy of our country's gallant 
defenders, who spread themselves over the town, do- 
ing all sorts of mad things. They were good-natured 
enough, but fuU of old Sancho. The "Wee Drop" 
proved a drop too much for many of them. They 
went singing through the streets at midnight, wring- 
ing off door-knockers, shinning up water-spouts, and 
frightening the Oldest Inhabitant nearly to death by 
popping their heads into his second-story window, and 
shouting " Fire 1 " One morning a blue jacket was 
discovered in a perilous plight, half-way up the stee- 
ple of the South Church, clinging to the lightning- 
rod. How he got there nobody could tell, not even 
blue-jacket himseE All he knew was, that the leg 
of his trousers had caught on a nail, and there he 
stuck, unable to move either way. It cost the town 
twenty dollars to get him down again. He directed 
the workmen how to splice the ladders brought to his 
assistance, and called his rescuers "butter-fingered 
land-lubbers " with delicious coolness. 

But those were man-of-war's men. The sedate- 
looking craft now lying off Fishcrate Island was n't 
likely to carry any such cargo. Nevertheless, we 
watched the coming in of the long-boat with consid- 
erable interest. 



172 



THE STORY OF A BAD BOY. 



As it drew near, the figure of the man pulling 
the bow-oar seemed oddly familiar to me. Where 
could I have seen him before ? When and where ? 
His back was towards me, but there was something 
about that closely cropped head that I recognized in- 
stantly. 

" Way enough ! " cried the steersman, and all the 
oars stood upright in the air. The man in the bow 
seized the boat-hook, and, turning round quickly, 
showed me the honest face of Sailor Ben of the Ty- 
phoon. 

" It 's Sailor Ben ! " I cried, nearly pushing Pepper 
Whitcomb overboard in my excitement. 

Sailor Ben, with the wonderful pink lady on his 
arm, and the ships and stars and anchors tattooed all 
over him, was a weU-known hero among my play- 
mates. And there he was, like something in a dream 
come true ! 

I did n't wait for my old acquaintance to get firmly 
on the wharf, before I grasped his hand in both of 
mine. 

" Sailor Ben, don't you remember me ? " 

He evidently did not. He shifted his quid from one 
cheek to the other, and looked at me meditatively. 

" Lord love ye, lad, I don't know you. I was never 
here afore in my life." 

" What ! " I cried, enjoying his perplexity, " have 
you forgotten the voyage from New Orleans in the 
Typhoon, two years ago, you lovely old picture- 
book?" 



AN OLD ACQUAINTANCE TURNS UP. 173 



Ah ! then he knew me, and in token of the recol- 
lection gave my hand such a squeeze that I am sure 
an unpleasant change came over my countenance. 

" Bless my eyes, but you have growed so. I should 
n't have knowed you if I had met you in Singa- 
pore ! " 

Without stopping to inquire, as I was tempted to 
do, why he was more likely to recognize me in Singa- 
pore than anywhere else; I invited him to come at 
once up to the Nutter House, where I insured him a 
warm welcome from the Captain. 

" Hold steady, Master Tom," said Sailor Ben, slip- 
ping the painter through the ringbolt and tying the 
loveliest knot you ever saw ; " hold steady till I see 
if the mate can let me off. If you please, sir," he 
continued, addressing the steersman, a very red-faced, 
bow-legged person, " this here is a little shipmate o' 
mine as wants to talk over back times along of me, if 
so it 's convenient. 

" All right, Ben," returned the mate ; " sha' n't want 
you for an hour." 

Leaving one man in charge of the boat, the mate 
and the rest of the crew went off together. In the 
mean while Pepper Whitcomb had got out his cunner- 
line, and was quietly fishing at the end of the wharf, 
as if to give me the idea that he was n't so very much 
impressed by my intimacy with so renowned a char- 
acter as Sailor Ben. Perhaps Pepper was a little 
jealous. At any rate, he refused to go with us to the 
house. 



174 



THE STORY OF A BAD BOY. 



Captain Nutter was at home reading the Kiver- 
mouth Barnacle. He was a reader to do an editor's 
heart good ; he never skipped over an advertisement, 
even if he had read it fifty times before. Then the 
paper went the rounds of the neighborhood, among 
the poor people, like the single portable eye which 
the three blind crones passed to each other in the 
legend of King Acrisius. The Captain, I repeat, was 
wandering in the labyrinths of the Rivermouth 
Barnacle when I led Sailor Ben into the sitting- 
room. 

My grandfather, whose inborn courtesy knew no 
distinctions, received my nautical friend as if he had 
been an admiral instead of a common forecastle-hand. 
Sailor Ben pulled an imaginary tuft of hair on his 
forehead, and bowed clumsily. Sailors have a way 
of using their forelock as a sort of handle to bow 
with. 

The old tar had probably never been in so hand- 
some an apartment in all his days, and nothing could 
induce him to take the inviting mahogany chair which 
the Captain wheeled out from the corner. 

The abashed mariner stood up against the wall, 
twirling his tarpaulin in his two hands and looking 
extremely silly. He made a poor show in a gentle- 
man's drawing-room, but what a fellow he had been 
in his day, when the gale blew great guns and the 
topsails wanted reefing ! I thought of him with the 
Mexican squadron off Vera Cruz, where 

** The rushing battle-bolt sung from the three-decker out of the foam," 



AN OLD ACQUAINTANCE TURNS UP. 



and he did n't seem awkward or ignoble to me, for all 
his shyness. 

As Sailor Ben declined to sit down, the Captain 
did not resume his seat ; so we three stood in a con- 
strained manner until my grandfather went to the 
door and called to Kitty to bring in a decanter of 
Madeira and two glasses. 

" My grandson, here, has talked so much about 
you," said the Captain, pleasantly, " that you seem 
quite like an old acquaintance to me." 

" Thankee, sir, thankee," returned Sailor Ben, look- 
ing as guilty as if he had been detected in picking a 
pocket. 

" And I 'm very glad to see you, Mr. — Mr. — " 

" Sailor Ben," suggested that worthy. 

" Mr. Sailor Ben," added the Captain, smiling. 
" Tom, open the door, there 's Kitty with the 
glasses." 

I opened the door, and Kitty entered the room 
bringing the things on a waiter, which she was about 
to set on the table, when suddenly she uttered a loud 
shriek ; the decanter and glasses fell with a crash to 
the floor, and Kitty, as white as a sheet, was seen 
flying through the hall. 

" It 's his wraith ! It 's his wraith * ! " we heard 
Kitty shrieking, in the kitchen. 

My grandfather and I turned with amazement to 
Sailor Ben. His eyes were standing out of his head 
like a lobster's. 

* Ghost, spirit. 



176. 



THE STORY OF A BAD BOY. 




THE RECOGNITION. 



" It 's my own little Irish lass ! " shouted the sailor, 
and he darted into the hall after her. 

Even then we scarcely caught the meaning of his 
words, but when we saw Sailor Ben and Kitty sob- 
bing on each other's shoulder in the kitchen, we un- 
derstood it all. 

" I begs your honor's parden, sir," said Sailor Ben, 
lifting his tear-stained face above Kitty's tumbled 
hair ; " I begs your honor's parden for kicking up 9 



AN OLD ACQUAINTANCE TURNS UP. 177 



rumpus in the house, but it 's my own little Irish 
lass as I lost so long ago ! " 

" Heaven preserve us ! " cried the Captain, blowing 
his nose violently, — a transparent ruse to hide his 
emotion. 

Miss Abigail was in an upper chamber, sweeping ; 
but on hearing the unusual racket below, she scented 
an accident and came ambling down stairs with a 
bottle of the infallible hot-drops in her hand. Noth- 
ing but the firmness of my grandfather prevented her 
from giving Sailor Ben a table-spoonful on the spot. 
But when she learned what had come about, — that 
this was Ejtty's husband, that Kitty Collins was n't 
Kitty Collins now, but Mrs. Benjamin Watson of 
Nantucket, — the good soul sat down on the meal- 
chest and sobbed as if — to quote from Captain Nut- 
ter — as if a husband of her own had turned up ! 

A happier set of people than we were never met 
together in a dingy kitchen or anywhere else. The 
Captain ordered a fresh decanter of Madeira, and 
made all hands, excepting myself, drink a cup to the 
return of "the prodigal sea-son," as he persisted in 
calling Sailor Ben. 

After the first flush of joy and surprise was over 
Kitty grew silent and constrained. Now and then she 
fixed her eyes thoughtfully on her husband. Why had 
he deserted her all these long years ? Wliat right had 
he to look for a welcome from one he had treated so 
cruelly ? She had been true to him, but had he been 
true to her? Sailor Ben must have guessed what 



178 



THE STORY OF A BAD BOY. 



was passing in her mind, for presently he took her 
hand and said, — 

" Well, lass, it 's a long yarn, but you shall have it 
all in good time. It was my hard luck as made us 
part company, an' no will of mine, for I loved you 
dear." 

Kitty brightened up immediately, needing no other 
assurance of Sailor Ben's faithfulness. 

When his hour had expired, we walked with him 
down to the wharf, where the Captain held a con- 
sultation with the mate, which resulted in an exten- 
sion of Mr. Watson's leave of absence, and after- 
wards in his discharge from his ship. We then went 
to the " Mariner's Home " to engage a room for him 
as he would n't hear of accepting the hospitalities of 
the Nutter House. 

" You see, I 'm only an uneddicated man," he re- 
marked to my grandfather, by way of explanation. 



IN WHICH SAILOR BEN SPINS A YARN. 179 



CHAPTER XVI. 

m WHICH SAILOR BEN SPINS A YARN. 

r .p course we were all very 

curious to learn what had 
befallen Sailor Ben that 
morning long ago, when he 
bade his little bride good 
by and disappeared so mys- 
teriously. 

After tea, that same even- 
ing, we assembled around 
the table in the kitchen, — 
the only place where Sailor 
Ben felt at home, — to hear 
what he had to say for him- 
self. 

The candles were snuffed, 
and a pitcher of foaming 
nut-brown ale was set at 
the elbow of the speaker, 
who was evidently embar- 
rassed by the respectability of his audience, consist- 
ing of Captain Nutter. Miss Abigail, myself, and 
Kitty, whose face shone with happiness like one of 
the polished tin platters on the dresser. 




180 



THE STORY OF A BAD BOY. 



"Well, my hearties," commenced Sailor Ben, — 
then he stopped short and turned very red, as it 
struck him that maybe this was not quite the proper 
way to address a dignitary like the Captain and a 
severe elderly lady like Miss Abigail Nutter, who 
sat bolt upright staring at him as she would have 
stared at the Tycoon of Japan himself. 

" I ain't much of a hand at spinnin' a yam," re- 
marked Sailor Ben, apologetically, "'specially when 
the yarn is all about a man as has made a fool of 
hisself, an' 'specially when that man's name is Ben- 
jamin Watson." 

" Bravo ! " cried Captain Nutter, rapping on the 
table encouragingly. 

" Thankee, sir, thankee. I go back to the time 
when Kitty an' me was livin' in lodgin's by the dock 
in New York. We was as happy, sir, as two por- 
pusses, which they toil not neither do they spin. But 
when I seed the money gittin' low in the locker, — 
Kitty's starboard stockin', savin' your presence, marm, 

— I got down-hearted like, seein' as I should be 
obleeged to ship agin, for it did n't seem as I could 
do much ashore. An' then the sea was my nat'ral 
spear of action. I was n't exactly born on it, look 
you, but I fell into it the fust time I was let out 
arter my birth. My mother slipped her cable for a 
heavenly port afore I was old enough to hail her ; so 
I larnt to look on the ocean for a sort of step-mother, 

— an' a precious hard one she has been to me. 

" The idee of leavin' Kitty so soon arter our mar^ 



IN WHICH SAILOR BEN SPINS A YARN. 181 



riage went agin my grain considerable. I cruised 
along the docks for somethin' to do in the way of 
stevedore : an' though I picked up a stray job here 
and there, I did n't am enough to buy ship-bisket for 
a rat, let alone feedin' two human mouths. There 
was n't nothin' honest I would n't have turned a 
hand to ; but the 'longshoremen gobbled up all the 
work, an' a outsider like me did n't stand a show. 

" Things got from bad to worse ; the month's rent 
took all our cash except a dollar or so, an' the sky 
looked kind o' squally fore an' aft. Well, I set out 
one mornin', — that identical unlucky mornin', — 
determined to come back an' toss some pay into 
Kitty's lap, if I had to sell my jacket for it. I spied 
a brig unloadin' coal at pier No. 47, — how well I re- 
members it ! I hailed the mate, an' offered myself 
for a coal-heaver. But I was n't wanted, as he told 
me civilly enough, which was better treatment than 
usual. As I turned off rather glum I was signalled 
by one of them sleek, smooth-spoken rascals with a 
white hat an' a weed on it, as is always goin' about 
the piers a-seekin' who they may devower. 

"We sailors know 'em for rascals from stem to 
starn, but somehow every fresh one fleeces us jest as 
his mate did afore him. We don't larn nothin' by 
exper'ence ; we 're jest no better than a lot of babbys 
with no brains. 

" ' Good mornin', my man,' sez the chap, as iley as 
you please. 

" ' Mornin', sir,' sez I 



3 82 THE STORY OF A BAD BOY. 

" ' Lookili' for a job ? ' sez he. 

" ' Through the big end of a telescope,' sez I, — • 
meanin' that the chances for a job looked very small 
from my pint of view. 

" 'You 're the man for my money/ sez the sharper, 
smilin' as innocent as a cherubim ; ' jest step in here, 
till we talk it over.' 

" So I goes with him like a nat'ral-born idiot, into 
a little grocery-shop near by, where we sets down at 
a table with a bottle atween us. Then it comes out 
as there is a New Bedford whaler about to start for 
the fishin' grounds, an' jest one able-bodied sailor hke 
me is wanted to make up the crew. Would I go ? 
Yes, I would n't on no terms. 

" ' I '11 bet you fifty doUars,' sez he, ' that you 'U 
^ome back fust mate.' 

" ' I 'U bet you a hundred,' sez I, ' that I don't, for 
1 've signed papers as keeps me ashore, an' the par- 
^}on has witnessed the deed.' 

" So we sat there, he urgin' me to ship, an' I chaf&n' 
him cheerful over the bottle. 

" Arter a while I begun to feel a little queer ; things 
got foggy in my upper works, an' I remembers, faint- 
like, of signin' a paper ; then I remembers bein' in a 
small boat; an' then I remembers nothin' until I 
heard the mate's whistle pipin' aU hands on deck. I 
tumbled up with the rest, an' there I was, — on board 
of a whaler outward bound for a three years' cruise, 
an' my dear little lass ashore awaitin' for me." 

" Miserable wretch ! " said Miss Abigail, in a voice 



IN WHICH SAILOR BEN SPINS A YARN. 183 




SAILOR BEN AND THE LAND-SHARK. 



that vibrated among the tin platters on the dresser. 
This was Miss Abigail's way of testifying her sympa- 
thy. 

"Thankee, marm/' returned Sailor Ben, doubt- 
fuUy. 

" No talking to the man at the wheel," cried the 
Captain. Upon which we all laughed. " Spin ! " 
added my grandfather. 

Sailor Ben resumed : — 



184 



THE STORY OF A BAD BOY. 



" I leave you to guess the wretchedness as fell upon 
me, for I 've not got the gift to tell you. There I was 
down on the ship's books for a three years' viage, an' 
no help for it. I feel nigh to six hundred years old 
when I think how long that viage was. There is n't 
no hour-glass as runs slow enough to keep a tally of 
the slowness of them fust hours. But I done my 
duty like a man, seein' there was n't no way of gettin' 
out of it. I told my shipmates of the trick as had 
\)een played on me, an' they tried to cheer me up a 
bit ; but I was sore sorrowful for a long spell. Many 
a night on watch I put my face in my hands and 
sobbed for thinkin' of the little woman left among 
the land-sharks, an' no man to have an eye on her, 
God bless her ! " 

Here Kitty softly drew her chair nearer to Sailor 
Ben, and rested one hand on his arm. 

" Our adventures among the whales, I take it, does 
n't consarn the present company here assembled. So 
I give that the go by. There 's an end to everythin', 
even to a whalin' viage. My heart all but choked me 
the day we put into New Bedford with our cargo of 
ile. I got my three years' pay in a lump, an' made 
for ISTew York like a flash of lightnin'. The people 
hove to and looked at me, as I rushed through the 
streets like a madman, until I came to the spot where 
the lodgin'-house stood on West Street. But, Lord 
love ye, there was n't no sech lodgin'-house there, but 
a great new brick shop. 

" I made bold to go in an' ask arter the old place, 



IN WHICH SAILOR BEN SPINS A YARN. 185 



but nobody knowed nothin' about it, save as it had 
been torn down two years or more. I was adrift now, 
for I had reckoned all them days and nights on gittin* 
word of Kitty from Dan Shackford, the man as kept 
the lodgin'. 

" As I stood there with all the wind knocked out 
of my sails, the idee of runnin' alongside the perlice- 
station popped into my head. The perlice was likely 
to know the latitude of a man like Dan Shackford, 
who was n't over an' above respecktible. They did 
know, — he had died in the Tombs jail that day 
twelvemonth. A coincydunce, was n't it ? I was 
ready to drop when they told me this ; howsomever, 
I bore up an' give the chief a notion of the fix I was 
in. He writ a notice which I put into the news- 
papers every day for three months ; but nothin' come 
of it. I cruised over the city week in and week out ; 
I went to every sort of place where they hired women 
hands ; I did n't leave a think undone that a uneddi- 
cated man could do. But nothin' come of it. I don't 
believe there was a wretcheder soul in that big city 
of wretchedness than me. Sometimes I wanted to 
lay down in the streets and die. 

" Driftin' disconsolate one day among the shippin', 
who should I overhaul but the identical smooth- 
spoken chap with a white hat an' a weed on it ! I 
did n't know if there was any sperit left in me, till 
I clapped eye on his very onpleasant countenance. 
* You villain ! ' sez I, ' where 's my little Irish lass as 
you dragged me away from ? ' an' I lighted on him, 
hat and all, like that ! " 



186 



THE STORY OF A BAD BOY. 



Here Sailor Ben brought his fist down on the deal 
table with the force of a sledge-hammer. Miss Abi- 
gail gave a start, and the ale leaped up in the pitcher 
like a miniature fountain. 

" I begs your parden, ladies and gentlemen all ; but 
the thought of that feller with his ring an' his watch- 
chain an' his walrus face, is alus too many for me. I 
was for pitchin' him into the North Eiver, when a 
perliceman prevented me from benefitin' the human 
family. I had to pay five dollars for hittin' the 
chap (they said it was salt and buttery), an' that 's 
what I call a neat, genteel luxury. It was worth 
double the money jest to see that white hat, with a 
weed on it, layin' on the wharf like a busted accor- 
diun. 

" Arter months of useless sarch, I went to sea agin. 
I never got into a foren port but I kept a watch out 
for Kitty. Once I thought I seed her in Liverpool, 
but it was only a gal as looked like her. The num- 
bers of women in different parts of the world as 
looked like her was amazin'. So a good many years 
crawled by, an' I wandered from place to place, never 
givin' up the sarch. I might have been chief mate 
scores of times, maybe master ; but I had n't no am- 
bition. I seed many strange things in them years, 
— outlandish people an' cities, storms, shipwracks, 
an' battles. I seed many a true mate go down, an' 
sometimes I envied them what went to their rest. 
But these things is neither here nor there. 

" About a year ago I shipped on board the Bel- 



IN WHICH SAILOR BEN SPINS A YARN. 187 



phoebe yonder, an' of all the strange winds as ever 
blowed, the strangest an' the best was the wind as 
blowed me to this here blessed spot. I can't be too 
thankful. That I 'm as thankful as it is possible 
for an uneddicated man to be, He knows as reads 
the heart of all." 

Here ended Sailor Ben's yarn, which I have writ- 
ten down in his own homely words as nearly as I can 
recall them. After he had finished, the Captain 
shook hands with him and served out the ale. 

As Kitty was about to drink, she paused, rested 
the cup on her knee, and asked what day of the 
month it was. 

" The twenty-seventh," said the Captain, wondering 
what she was driving at. 

" Then," cried Kitty, " it 's ten years this night 
sence — " 

" Since what ? " asked my grandfather. 

" Sence the little lass and I got spliced ! " roared 
Sailor Ben. " There 's another coincydunce for you ! " 

On hearing this we all clapped hands, and the 
Captain, with a degree of ceremony that was almost 
painful, drank a bumper to the health and happiness 
of the bride and bridegroom. 

It was a pleasant sight to see the two old lovers 
sitting side by side, in spite of all, drinking from the 
same little cup, — a battered zinc dipper which Sailor 
Ben had unslung from a strap round his waist. I think 
I never saw him without this dipper and a sheath-knife 
suspended just back of his hip, ready for any conviv- 
ial occasion. - 



188 



THE STORY OF A BAD BOY. 



We liad a merry time of it. The Captain was in 
great force this evening, and not only related his fa- 
mous exploit in the war of 1812, but regaled the 
company with a dashing sea-song from Mr. Shake- 
speare's play of The Tempest. He had a mellow 
tenor voice (not Shakespeare, but the Captain), and 
rolled out the verse with a will : — 

*' The master, the swabber, the boatswain, and I, 
The gunner, and his mate, 
Lov'd Mall, Meg, and Marian, and Margery, 
But none of us car'd for Kate." 

" A very good song, and very well sung," says Sai- 
lor Ben ; " but some of us does care for Kate. Is this 
Mr. Shawkspear a sea-farin' man, sir ? " 

" Not at present," replied the Captain, with a mon- 
strous twinkle in his eye. 

The clock was striking ten when the party broke 
up. The Captain walked to the " Mariner's Home " 
with his guest, in order to question him regarding 
his future movements. 

" Well, sir," said he, " I ain't as young as I was, 
an' T don't cal'ulate to go to sea no more. I proposes 
to drop anchor here, an' hug the land until the old 
hulk goes to pieces. I 've got two or three thousand 
dollars in the locker, an' expects to get on uncommon 
comfortable without askin' no odds from the Assylum 
for Decayed Mariners." 

My grandfather indorsed the plan warmly, and 
Sailor Ben did drop anchor in Eivermouth, where he 
speedily became one of the institutions of the town. 



IN WHICH SAILOR BEN SPINS A YARN. 189 

His first step was to buy a small one-story cottage 
located at the head of the wharf, within gun-shot of 
the ISTutter House. To the great amusement of my 
grandfather, Sailor Ben painted the cottage a light 
sky-blue, and ran a broad black stripe around it just 
under the eaves. In this stripe he painted white 
port-holes, at regular distances, making his residence 
look as much like a man-of-war as possible. With a 
short flag-staff projecting over the door like a bow- 
sprit, the effect was quite magical. My description 
of the exterior of this palatial residence is complete 
when I add that the proprietor nailed a horseshoe 
against the front door to keep off the witches, — a 
very necessary precaution in these latitudes. 

The inside of Sailor Ben's abode was not less strik- 
ing than the outside. The cottage contained two 
rooms ; the one opening on the wharf he called his 
cabin ; here he ate and slept. His few tumblers and 
a frugal collection of crockery were set in a rack 
suspended over the table, which had a cleat of wood 
nailed round the edge to prevent the dishes from 
sliding off in case of a heavy sea. Hanging against 
the walls were three or four highly colored prints of 
celebrated frigates, and a lithograph picture of a rosy 
young woman insufficiently clad in the American 
flag. This was labelled " Kitty," though I 'm sure it 
looked no more like her than I did. A walrus-tooth 
with an Esquimaux engraved on it, a shark's jaw, and 
the blade of a sword-fish were among the enviable 
decorations of this apartment. In one corner stood 



190 



THE STORY OF A BAD BOY. 



his bunk, or bed, and in the other his well-worn sea- 
chest, a perfect Pandora's box of mysteries. You 
would have thought yourseK in the cabin of a real 
ship. 

The little room aft, separated from the cabin by a 
sliding door, was the caboose. It held a cooking- 
stove, pots, pans, and groceries ; also a lot of fishing- 
lines and coils of tarred twine, which made the place 
smeU like a forecastle, and a delightful smell it is — 
to those who fancy it. 

Kitty did n't leave our service, but played house- 
keeper for both establishments, returning at night to 
Sailor Ben's. He shortly added a wherry to his 
worldly goods, and in the fishing season made a very 
handsome income. During the winter he employed 
himself manufacturing crab-nets, for which he foimd 
no lack of customers. 

His popularity among the boys was immense. A 
jackknife in his expert hand was a whole chest of 
tools. He could whittle out anything from a wooden 
chain to a Chinese pagoda, or a full-rigged seventy- 
four a foot long. To own a ship of Sailor Ben's 
building was to be exalted above your fellow-crea- 
tures. He did n't carve many, and those he refused 
to sell, choosing to present them to his young friends, 
of whom Tom Bailey, you may be sure, was one. 

How delightful it was of winter nights to sit in 
his cosey cabin, close to the ship's stove (he would n't 
hear of having a fireplace), and listen to Sailor Ben's 
yarns ! In the early summer twilights, when he sat 



IN WHICH SAILOR BEN SPINS A YARN. 191 



on the door-step splicing a rope or mending a net, 
he always had a bevy of blooming young faces along- 
side. 

The dear old fellow ! How tenderly the years 
touched him after this ! — all the more tenderly, it 
seemed, for having roughed him so crueUy in other 
days. 



192 THE STORY OF A BAD BOY, 

CHAPTER XVII. 

HOW WE ASTONISHED THE RIVERMOUTHIANS. 

AILOR BEN'S arrival part, 
ly drove the New Orleans 
project from my brain. Be- 
sides, there was just then a 
certain movement on foot 
by the Centipede Club 
which helped to engross 
my attention. 

Pepper Whitcomb took 
the Captain's veto philo- 
sophically, observing that 
he thought from the first 
the governor wouldn't let 
me go. I don't think Pep- 
per was quite honest in 
that. 

But to th^ subject in 
hand. 

Among the few changes that have taken place in 
Kivermouth during the past twenty years there is 
one which I regret. I lament the removal of all 
those varnished iron cannon which used to do duty 
as posts at the corners of streets leading from the 




now WE ASTONISHED THE RIVERMOaTHIANS. 193 

river. They were *quaintly ornamental, each set 
upon end with a solid shot soldered into its mouth, 
and gave to that part of the town a picturesqueness 
very poorly atoned for by the conventional wooden 
stakes that have deposed them. 

These guns (" old sogers " the boys called them) 
had their story, like everything else in Ei vermouth. 
When that everlasting last war — the war of 1812, 
I mean — came to an end, all the brigs, schooners, 
and barks fitted out at this port as privateers were 
as eager to get rid of their useless twelve-pounders 
and swivels as they had previously been to obtain 
them. Many of the pieces had cost large sums, and 
now they were little better than so much crude iron, 
— not so good, in fact, for they were clumsy things 
to break up and melt over. The government did n't 
want them ; private citizens did n't want them ; they 
were a drug in the market. 

But there was one man, ridiculous beyond his 
generation, who got it into his head that a fortune 
was to be made out of these same guns. To buy 
them all, to hold on to them until war was declared 
again (as he had no doubt it would be in a few 
months), and then sell out at fabulous prices, — 
this was the daring idea that addled the pate of 
Silas Trefethen, "Dealer in E. & W. I. Goods and 
Glroceries," as the faded sign over liis shop-door in- 
formed the public. 

Silas went shrewdly to work, buying up every old 
cannon he could lay hands on. His back-yard was 



194 



THE STORY OF A BAD BOY. 



soon crowded with broken-down gun-carriages, and 
bis barn with guns, like an arsenal. When Silas's 
purpose got wind it was astonishing how valuable 
that thing became which just now was worth noth- 
ing at all. 

" Ha, ha ! " thought Silas ; " somebody else is try- 
in' tu git control of the market. But I guess I 've 
got the start of 

So he went on buying and buying, oftentimes pay- 
ing double the original price of the article. People 
in the neighboring towns collected all the worthless 
ordnance they could find, and sent it by the cart-load 
to Rivermouth. 

Wlien his barn was full, Silas began piling the 
rubbish in his cellar, then in his parlor. He mort- 
gaged the stock of his grocery-store, mortgaged his 
house, his barn, his horse, and would have mortgaged 
himself, if any one would have taken him as security, 
m order to carry on the grand speculation. He was 
a ruined man, and as happy as a lark. 

Surely poor Silas was cracked, like the majority of 
his own cannon. More or less crazy he must have 
been always. Years before this he purchased an 
elegant rosewood coffin, and kept it in one of the 
spare rooms in his residence. He even had his name 
engraved on the silver-plate, leaving a blank after 
the word " Died." 

The blank was filled up in due time, and well it 
Vvas for Silas that he secured so stylish a coffin in 
ills opulent days, for when he died his worldly wealth 



HOW WE ASTONISHED THE RIVERMOUTHIANS. 195 

would not have bought him a pine box, to say noth- 
ing of rosewood. He never gave up expecting a war 
with Great Britain. Hopeful and radiant to the last, 
his dying words were, England — war — few days — 
great profits ! 

It was that sweet old lady, Dame Jocelyn, who 
told me the story of Silas Trefethen ; for these things 
happened long before my day. Silas died in 1817. 

At Trefethen's death his unique collection came 
under the auctioneer's hammer. Some of the larger 
guns were sold to the town, and planted at the cor- 
ners of divers streets ; others went off to the iron- 
foundry ; the balance, numbering twelve, were dumped 
down on a deserted wharf at the foot of Anchor Lane, 
where, summer after summer, they rested at their ease 
in the grass and fungi, pelted in autumn by the rain 
and annually buried by the winter snow. It is with 
these twelve guns that our story has to deal. 

The wharf where they reposed was shut off from 
the street by a high fence, — a silent, dreamy old 
wharf, covered with strange weeds and mosses. On 
account of its seclusion and the good fishing it 
afforded, it was much frequented by us boys. 

There we met many an afternoon to throw out our 
lines, or play leap-frog among the rusty cannon. They 
were famous fellows in our eyes. What a racket they 
had made in the heyday of their unchastened youth 1 
What stories they might tell now, if their puffy me- 
tallic lips could only speak ! Once they were lively 
talkers enough; but there the grim sea-dogs lay. 



196 



THE STORY OF A BAD BOY. 



silent and forlorn in spite of all their former growl- 
ings. 

They always seemed to me like a lot of venerable 
disabled tars, stretched out on a lawn in front of a 
hospital, gazing seaward, and mutely lamenting their 
lost youth. 

But once more they were destined to lift up their 
dolorous voices, — once more ere they keeled over 
and lay speechless for all time. And this is how it 
befeU. 

Jack Harris, Charley Harden, Harry Blake, and 
myself were fishing off the wharf one afternoon, 
when a thought flashed upon me like an inspira- 
tion. 

" I say, boys ! " I cried, hauling in my line hand 
over hand, " I 've got something I " 

" What does it pull like, youngster ? " asked Harris, 
looking down at the taut line and expecting to see a 
big perch at least. 

" 0, nothing in the fish way," I returned, laughing ; 
" it 's about the old guns." 

" What about them ? " 

" I was thinking what jolly fun it would be to set 
one of the old sogers on his legs and serve him out 
a ration of gunpowder." 

Up came the three lines in a jiffy. An enterprise 
better suited to the disposition of my companions 
could not have been proposed. 

In a short time we had one of the smaller cannon 
over on its back and were busy scraping the greeij 



HOW WE ASTONISHED THE RIVERMOUTHIANS. 197 

rust from the toucli-hole. The mould had spiked the 
gun so effectually, that for a while we fancied we 
should have to give up our attempt to resuscitate the 
old soger. 

" A long gimlet would clear it out," said Charley 
Harden, " if we only had one." 

I looked to see if Sailor Ben's flag was flying at 
the cabin door, for he always took in the colors when 
he went off fishing. 

" When you want to know if the Admiral's aboard, 
jest cast an eye to the buntin', my hearties," says 
Sailor Ben. 

Sometimes in a jocose mood he called himself the 
Admiral, and I am sure he deserved to be one. The 
Admiral's flag was flying, and I soon procured a gimlet 
from his carefully kept tool-chest. 

Before long we had the gun in working order. A 
newspaper lashed to the end of a lath served as a 
swab to dust out the bore. Jack Harris blew through 
the touch-hole and pronounced all clear. 

Seeing our task accomplished so easily, we turned 
our attention to the other guns, which lay in all sorts 
of postures in the rank grass. Borrowing a rope from 
Sailor Ben, we managed with immense labor to drag 
the heavy pieces into position and place a brick under 
each muzzle to give it the proper elevation. When 
we beheld them all in a row, like a regular battery, 
we simultaneously conceived an idea, the magnitude 
of which struck us dumb for a moment. 

Our first intention was to load and fire a single 



198 



THE STORY OF A BAD BOY. 



gun. How feeble and insignificant was sucli a plan 
compared to that which now sent the light dancing 
into our eyes ! 

" What could we have been thinking of ? " cried 
Jack Harris. " We '11 give 'em a broadside, to be 
sure, if we die for it ! " 

We turned to with a will, and before nightfall had 
nearly half the battery overhauled and ready for ser- 
vice. To keep the artillery dry we stuffed wads of 
loose hemp into the muzzles, and fitted wooden pegs 
to the touch-holes. 

At recess the next noon the Centipedes met in a 
corner of the school-yard to talk over the proposed 
lark. The original projectors, though they would 
have liked to keep the thing secret, were obhged to 
make a club matter of it, inasmuch as funds were re- 
quired for ammunition. There had been no recent 
drain on the treasury, and the society could weU 
afford to spend a few dollars in so notable an under- 
taking. 

It was unanimously agreed that the plan should be 
carried out in the handsomest manner, and a subscrip- 
tion to that end was taken on the spot. Several of 
the Centipedes had n't a cent, excepting the one 
strung around their necks ; others, however, were 
richer. I chanced to have a dollar, and it went into 
the cap quicker than lightning. When the club, in 
view of my munificence, voted to name the guns 
Bailey's Battery I was prouder than I have ever been 
since over anything. 



HOW WE ASTONISHED THE RIVERMOUTHIANS. 199 



The money thus raised, added to that already in the 
treasury, amounted to nine dollars, — a fortune in 
those days ; but not more than we had use for. This 
sum was divided into twelve parts, for it would not 
do for one boy to buy all the powder, nor even for us 
all to make our purchases at the same place. That 
would excite suspicion at any time, particularly at a 
period so remote from the Fourth of July. 

There were only three stores in town licensed to 
sell powder ; that gave each store four customers. 
Not to run the slightest risk of remark, one boy 
bought his powder on Monday, the next boy on Tues- 
day, and so on until the requisite quantity was in our 
possession. This we put into a keg and carefully hid 
in a dry spot on the wharf. 

Our next step was to finish cleaning the guns, 
which occupied two afternoons, for several of the old 
sogers were in a very congested state indeed. Having 
completed the task, we came upon a difficulty. To 
set off the battery by daylight was out of the ques- 
tion ; it must be done at night ; it must be done with 
fuses, for no doubt the neighbors would turn out 
after the first two or three shots, and it would not 
pay to be caught in the vicinity. 

Who knew anything about fuses ? Who could ar- 
range it so the guns would go off one after the other, 
with an interval of a minute or so between ? 

Theoretically we knew that a minute fuse lasted a 
minute ; double the quantity, two minutes ; but prac- 
tically we were at a stand-still. There was but one 



200 



THE STORY OF A BAD BOY. 



person who could help us in this extremity, — Sailor 
Ben. To me was assigned the duty of obtaining 
what information I could from the ex-gunner, it be- 
ing left to my discretion whether or not to ' intrust 
him with our secret. 

So one evening I dropped into the cabin and art- 
fully turned the conversation to fuses in general, and 
then to particular fuses, but without getting much 
out of the old boy, who was busy making a twine 
hammock. Finally, I was forced to divulge the whole 
plot. 

The Admiral had a sailor's love for a joke, and en- 
tered at once and heartily into our scheme. He vol- 
unteered to prepare the fuses himself, and I left the 
labor in his hands, having bound him by several ex- 
traordinary oaths, — such as " Hope-I-may-die " and 
" Shiver-my-timbers," — not to betray us, come what 
would. 

This was Monday evening. On Wednesday the 
fuses were ready. That night we were to unmuzzle 
Bailey's Battery. Mr. Grimshaw saw that some- 
thing was wrong somewhere, for we were restless and 
absent-minded in the classes, and the best of us came 
to grief before the morning session was over. "XAlien 
Mr. Grimshaw announced " Guy Fawkes " as the sub- 
ject for our next composition, you might have 
knocked down the Mystic Twelve with a feather. 

The coincidence was certainly curious, but when a 
man has committed, or is about to commit an offence, 
a hundred trifles, which would pass unnoticed at 



HOW WE ASTONISHED THE RIVEEMOUTHIANS. 201 



another time, seem to point at him with convicting 
fingers. No doubt Guy Fawkes himself received 
many a start after he had got his wicked kegs of gun- 
powder neatly piled up under the House of Lords. 

Wednesday, as I have mentioned, was a half-holi- 
day, and the Centipedes assembled in my barn to de- 
cide on the final arrangements. These were as sim- 
ple £is could be. As the fuses were connected, it 
needed but one person to fire the train. Hereupon 
arose a discussion as to who was the proper person. 
Some argued that I ought to apply the match, the 
battery being christened after me, and the main idea, 
moreover, being mine. Others advocated the claim 
of Phil Adams as the oldest boy. At last we drew 
lots for the post of honor. 

Twelve slips of folded paper, upon one of which 
w^as written " Thou art the man," were placed in a 
quart measure, and thoroughly shaken ; then each 
member stepped up and lifted out his destiny. At a 
given signal we opened our billets. "Thou art the 
man," said the slip of paper trembling in my fingers. 
The sweets and anxieties of a leader were mine the 
rest of the afternoon. 

Directly after twilight set in Phil Adams stole 
down to the wharf and fixed the fuses to the guns, 
laying a train of powder from the principal fuse to 
the fence, through a chink of which I was to drop the 
match at midnight. 

At ten o'clock Rivermouth goes to bed. At eleven 
o'^ilock Rivermouth is as quiet as a country churchyard. 

9* 



202 



THE STORY OF A BAD BOY. 



At twelve o'clock there is nothing left with which to 
compare the stillness that broods over the little seaport 

In the midst of this stillness I arose and glided out 
of the house like a phantom bent on an evil errand ; 
like a phantom I flitted through the silent street, 
hardly drawing breath until I knelt down beside the 
fence at the appointed place. 

Pausing a moment for my heart to stop thumping, 
I lighted the match and shielded it with both hands 
until it was well under way, and then dropped the 
blazing splinter on the slender thread of gunpowder. 

A noiseless flash instantly followed, and all was 
dark again. I peeped through the crevice in the 
fence, and saw the main fuse spitting out sparks like 
a conjurer. Assured that the train had not failed, I 
took to my heels, fearful lest the fuse might burn 
more rapidly than we calculated, and cause an explo- 
sion before I could get home. This, luckily, did not 
happen. There 's a special Providence that watches 
over idiots, drunken men, and boys. 

I dodged the ceremony of undressing by plunging 
into bed, jacket, boots, and all. I am not sure I took 
off my cap ; but I know that I had hardly pulled the 
coverlid over me, when " Boom ! " sounded the first 
gun of Bailey's Battery. 

I lay as still as a mouse. In less than two min- 
utes there was another burst of thunder, and then 
another. The third gun was a tremendous feUow and 
fairly shook the house. 

The town was waking up. Windows were thrown 



HOW WE ASTONISHED THE RIVERMOUTHIANS. 203 

open here and there and people called to each other 
across the streets asking what that firing was for. 

" Boom ! " went gun number four. 

I sprung out of bed and tore off my jacket, for I 
heard the Captain feeling his way along the wall to 
my chamber. I was half undressed by the time he 
found the knob of the door. 

" I say, sir," I cried, " do you hear those guns ? " 

" 'Not being deaf, I do," said the Captain, a little 
tartly, — any reflection on his hearing always nettled 
him ; " but what on earth they are for I can't con- 
ceive. You had better get up and dress yourself" 
I 'm nearly dressed, sir." 

" Boom ! Boom ! " — two of the guns had gone off 
together. 

The door of Miss Abigail's bedroom opened has- 
tily, and that pink of maidenly propriety stepped out 
into the hall in her night-gown, — the only indecorous 
thing I ever knew her to do. She held a lighted can- 
dle in her hand and looked like a very aged Lady 
Macbeth. 

" Dan' el, this is dreadful ! What do you suppose 
it means ? " 

" I really can't suppose," said the Captain, rubbing 
his ear ; " but I guess it 's over now." 

" Boom ! " said Bailey's Battery. 

Eivermouth was wide awake now, and half the 
male population were in the streets, running different 
ways, for the firing seemed to proceed from opposite 
points of the town. Everybody waylaid everybody 



204 



THE STORY OF A BAD BOY. 



else with questions ; but as no one knew what was 
the occasion of the tumult, people who were not 
usually nervous began to be oppressed by the mys- 
tery. 

Some thought the town was being bombarded ; 
some thought the world was coming to an end, as 
the pious and ingenious Mr. Miller had predicted it 
would ; but those who could n't form any theory 
whatever were the most perplexed. 

In the mean while Bailey's Battery bellowed away 
at regular intervals. The greatest confusion reigned 
everywhere by this time. People with lanterns 
rushed hither and thither. The town-watch had 
turned out to a man, and marched off, in admirable 
order, in the wrong direction. Discovering their 
mistake, they retraced their steps, and got down to 
the wharf just as the last cannon belched forth its 
lightninof. 

A dense cloud of sulphurous smoke floated over 
Anchor Lane, obscuring the starlight. Two or three 
hundred people, in various stages of excitement, 
crowded about the upper end of the wharf, not lik- 
ing to advance farther until they were satisfied that 
the explosions were over. A board was here and 
there blown from the fence, and through the open- 
ings thus afforded a few of the more daring spirits 
at length ventured to crawl. 

The cause of the racket soon transpired. A sus- 
picion that they had been sold gradually dawned on 
the Rivermouthians. Many were exceedingly indig- 



HOW WE ASTONISHED THE RIVERMOUTHIANS. 205 

nant, and declared that no penalty was severe enough 
for those concerned in such a prank ; others — and 
these were the very people who had been terrified 
nearly out of their wits — had the assurance to laugh, 
saying that they knew all along it was only a trick. 

The town-watch boldly took possession of the 
ground, and the crowd began to disperse. Knots of 
gossips lingered here and there near the place, in- 
dulging in vain surmises as to who the invisible gun- 
ners conld be. 

There was no more noise that night, but many a 
timid person lay awake expecting a renewal of the 
mysterious cannonading. The Oldest Inhabitant re- 
fused to go to bed on any terms, but persisted in sit- 
ting up in a rocking-chair, with his hat and mittens 
on, until daybreak. 

I thought I should never get to sleep. The mo- 
ment I drifted off in a doze I fell to laughing and 
woke myself up. But towards morning slumber 
overtook me, and I had a series of disagreeable 
dreams, in one of which I was waited upon by the 
ghost of Silas Trefethen with an exorbitant bill for 
the use of his guns. In another, I was dragged be- 
fore a court-martial and sentenced by Sailor Ben, in 
a frizzled wig and three-cornered cocked hat, to be 
shot to death by Bailey's Battery, — a sentence which 
Sailor Ben was about to execute with his own hand, 
when I suddenly opened my eyes and found the sun- 
shine lying pleasantly across my face. I tell you I 
was glad ! 



1 



206 THE STORY OF A BAD BOY. 

That unaccountable fascination which leads the 
guilty to hover about the spot where his crime was 
committed drew me down to the wharf as soon as I 
was dressed. Phil Adams, Jack Harris, and others 
of the conspirators were already there, examining 
with a mingled feeling of curiosity and apprehension 
the havoc accomplished by the battery. 




THE OLD SOGERS. 



The fence was badly shattered and the ground 
ploughed up for several yards round the place where 



HOW WE ASTONISHED THE RIVERMOUTHIANS. 207 

the guns formerly lay, — formerly lay, for now tliey 
were scattered every which way. There was scarcely 
a gun that had n't burst. Here was one ripped open 
from muzzle to breech, and there was another with 
its mouth blown into the shape of a trumpet. Three 
of the guns had disappeared bodily, but on looking 
over the edge of the wharf we saw them standing on 
end in the tide-mud. They had popped overboard in 
their excitement. 

" I tell you what, fellows," whispered Phil Adams, 
"it is lucky we did n't try to touch 'em off with 
punk. They 'd have blown us all to flinders." 

The destruction of Bailey's Battery was not, un- 
fortunately, the only catastrophe. A fragment of 
one of the cannon had carried away the chimney of 
Sailor Ben's cabin. He was very mad at first, but 
having prepared the fuse himseK he did n't dare com- 
plain openly. 

" I 'd have taken a reef in the blessed stove-pipe," 
said the Admiral, gazing ruefully at the smashed 
chimney, " if I had known as how the Flagship was 
agoin' to be under fire." 

The next day he rigged out an iron funnel, which, 
being in sections, could be detached and taken in at a 
moment's notice. On the whole, I think he was re- 
signed to the demolition of his brick chimney. The 
stove-pipe was a great deal more ship-shape. 

The tovm was not so easily appeased. The select- 
men determined to make an example of the guilty 
parties, and offered a reward for their arrest, holding 



208 



THE STORY OF A BAD BOY. 



out a promise of pardon to any one of the offenders 
who would furnish information against the rest. But 
there were no faint hearts among the Centipedes. 
Suspicion rested for a while on several persons, — on 
the soldiers at the fort; on a crazy fellow, known 
about town as " Bottle-Nose " ; and at last on Sailor 
Ben. 

" Shiver my timbers ! " cries that deeply injured 
individual. " Do you suppose, sir, as I have lived 
to sixty year, an' ain't got no more sense than to go 
for to blaze away at my own upper riggin' ? It does n't 
stand to reason." 

It certainly did not seem probable that Mr. Watson 
would maliciously knock over his own chimney, and 
La^vyer Hackett, who had the case in hand, bowed 
himself out of the Admiral's cabin convinced that 
the right man had not been discovered. 

People living by the sea are always more or less 
superstitious. Stories of spectre ships and mysteri- 
ous beacons, that lure vessels out of their course and 
wreck them on unknown reefs, were among the stock 
legends of Eivermouth ; and not a few people in the 
town were ready to attribute the firing of those guns 
to some supernatural agency. The Oldest Inhabitant 
remembered that when he was a boy a dim-looking 
sort of schooner hove to in the ofifi.ng one foggy after- 
noon, fired off a single gun that did n't make any 
report, and then crumbled to nothing, spar, mast, and 
hulk, like a piece of burnt paper. 

The authorities, however, were of the opinion that 



HOW WE ASTONISHED THE RIVERMOUTHIANS. 209 

human hands had something to do with the explosions, 
and they resorted to deep-laid stratagems to get hold 
of the said hands. One of their traps came very near 
catching us. They artfully caused an old brass field- 
piece to be left on a wharf near the scene of our late 
operations. Nothing in the world but the lack of 
money to buy powder saved us from falling into the 
clutches of the two watchmen who lay secreted for a 
week in a neighboring sail-loft. 

It was many a day before the midnight bombard- 
ment ceased to be the town-talk. The trick was so 
audacious and on so grand a scale that nobody thought 
for an instant of connecting us lads with it. Suspi- 
cion at length grew weary of lighting on the wrong 
person, and as conjecture — like the physicians in 
the epitaph — was in vain, the Eivermouthians gave 
up the idea of finding out who had astonished them. 

They never did find out, and never will, unless 
they read this veracious history. If the selectmen 
are still disposed to punish the malefactors, I can 
supply Lawyer Hackett with evidence enough to con- 
vict Pepper Whitcomb, Phil Adams, Charley Harden, 
and the other honorable members of the Centipede 
Club. But reaUy I don't think it would pay now. 



210 THE STORY OF A BAD BOY. 



CHAPTER XVIII.' 

A FROG HE WOULD A-WOOING GO. 

F the reader supposes that 
I lived all this while in 
Rivermouth without falling 
a victim to one or more of 
the young ladies attending 
Miss Dorothy Gibbs's Fe- 
male Institute, why, then, 
all I have to say is the read- 
er exhibits his ignorance 
of human nature. 

Miss Gibbs's seminary 
was located within a few 
minutes' walk of the Temph 
Grammar School, and num- 
bered about thirty-five pu- 
pils, the majority of whom 
boarded at the Hall, — ' 
Primrose Hall, as Miss Dor- 
othy prettily called it. The 
Primrosos, as we called them, ranged from seven years 
of age to sweet seventeen, and a prettier group of si- 
rens never got together even in Rivermouth, for River- 
mouth, you should know, is famous for its pretty girls. 




A FROG HE WOULD A-WOOING GO. 



211 



There were tall girls and short girls, rosy girls and 
pale girls, and girls as brown as berries ; girls like Am- 
azons, slender girls, weird and winning like Undine, 
girls with black tresses, girls with auburn ringlets, girls 
with every tinge of golden hair. To behold Miss Dor- 
othy's young ladies of a Sunday morning walking to 
church two by two, the smallest toddling at the end 
of the procession, like the bobs at the tail of a kite, 
was a spectacle to fill with tender emotion the least 
susceptible heart. To see Miss Dorothy marching 
grimly at the head of her light infantry, was to feel 
the hopelessness of making an attack on any part of 
the column. 

She was a perfect dragon of watchfulness. The 
most unguarded lifting of an eyelash in the fluttering 
battalion was sufficient to put her on the lookout. 
She had had experiences with the male sex, this Miss 
Dorothy so prim and grim. It was whispered that her 
heart was a tattered album scrawled over with love- 
lines, but that she had shut up the volume long ago. 

There was a tradition that she had been crossed in 
love; but it was the faintest of traditions. A gay 
young lieutenant of marines had flirted with her at a 
country ball (a. d. 1811), and then marched carelessly 
away at the head of his company to the shrill music 
of the fife, without so much as a sigh for the girl he 
left behind him. The years rolled on, the gallant 
gay Lothario — which was n't his name — married, 
became a father, and then a grandfather ; and at the 
period of which I am speaking his grandchild was 



212 



THE STORY OF A BAD BOY. 



actually one of Miss Dorothy's young ladies. So, at 
least, ran the story. 

The lieutenant himself was dead these many years.; 
but Miss Dorothy never got over his duplicity. She 
was convinced that the sole aim of mankind was to 
win the unguarded affection of maidens, and then 
march off treacherously with flying colors to the 
heartless music of the drum and fife. To shield the 
inmates of Primrose Hall from the bitter influences 
that had blighted her own early affections was Miss 
Dorothy's mission in life. 

" No wolves prowling about my lambs, if you 
please," said Miss Dorothy. " I will not allow it." 

She was as good as her word. I don't think the 
boy lives who ever set foot within the limits of Prim- 
rose Hall while the seminary was under her charge. 
Perhaps if Miss Dorothy had given her young ladies 
a little more liberty, they would not have thought it 
" such fun " to make eyes over the white lattice fence 
at the young gentlemen of the Temple Grammar 
School. I say perhaps ; for it is one thing to manage 
thirty-five young ladies and quite another thing to 
talk about it. 

But all Miss Dorothy's vigilance could i¥)t prevent 
the young folks from meeting in the town now and 
then, nor could her utmost ingenuity interrupt postal 
arrangements. There was no end of notes passing 
between the students and the Primroses. Notes tied 
to the heads of arrows were shot into dormitory win- 
dows ; notes were tucked under fences, and hiddeu 



A FROG HE WOULD A- WOOING GO. 213 



in the trunks of decayed trees. Every thick place 
in the boxwood hedge that surrounded the seminary 
was a possible post-office. 

It was a terrible shock to Miss Dorothy the day 
ehe unearthed a nest of letters in one of the huge 
wooden urns surmounting the gateway that led to her 
dovecot. It was a bitter moment to Miss Phoebe and 
Miss Candace and Miss Hesba, when they had their 
locks of hair grimly handed back to them by Miss 
Gibbs in the presence of the whole school. Girls 
whose locks of hair had run the blockade in safety 
were particularly severe on the offenders. But it 
did n't stop other notes and other tresses, and I would 
like to know what can stop them while the earth 
holds together. 

'Now when I first came to Eivermouth I looked 
upon girls as rather tame company ; I had n't a spark 
of sentiment concerning them ; but seeing my com- 
rades sending and receiving mysterious epistles, wear- 
ing bits of ribbon in their button-holes and leaving 
packages of confectionery (generally lemon-drops) in 
the hollow trunks of trees, — why, I felt that this 
was the proper thing to do. I resolved, as a matter 
of duty, to fall in love with somebody, and I did n't 
care in the least who it was. In much the same 
mood that Don Quixote selected the Dulcinea del 
Toboso for his lady-love, I singled out one of Miss 
Dorothy's incomparable young ladies for mine. 

I debated a long while whether I should not select 
two, but at last settled down on one, — a pale little 



214 



THE STORY OF A BAD BOY. 



girl with blue eyes, named Alice. I shall not make 
a long story of this, for Alice made short work of me. 
She was secretly in love with Pepper Whitcomb. 
This occasioned a temporary coolness between Pepper 
and myself. 

Not disheartened, however, I placed Laura Eice — 
I believe it was Laura Eice — in the vacant niche- 
The new idol was more cruel than the old. The 
former frankly sent me to the right about, but the 
latter was a deceitful lot. She wore my nosegay in 
her dress at the evening service (the Primroses were 
marched to church three times every Sunday), she 
penned me the daintiest of notes, she sent me the 
glossiest of ringlets (cut, as I afterwards found out, 
from the stupid head of Miss Gibbs's chamber-maid), 
and at the same time was holding me and my pony 
up to ridicule in a series of letters written to Jack 
Harris. It was Harris himself who kindly opened 
my eyes. 

" I tell you what. Bailey," said that young gentle- 
man, " Laura is an old veteran, and carries too many 
guns for a youngster. She can't resist a flirtation ; I 
believe she 'd flirt with an infant in arms. There 's 
hardly a fellow in the school that has n't worn her 
colors and some of her hair. She does n't give out 
any more of her own hair now. It 's been pretty 
well used up. The demand was greater than the 
supply, you see. It 's all very well to correspond 
with Laura, but as to looking for anything serious 
from her, the knowing ones don't. Hope I have n't 



A FKOG HE WOULD A- WOOING GO. 215 

hurt your feelings, old boy," (that was a soothing 
stroke of flattery to call me " old boy," ) " but 't was 
my duty as a friend and a Centipede to let you know 
who you were dealing with." 

Such was the advice given me by that time-stricken, 
care-worn, and embittered man of the world, who was 
sixteen years old if he was a day. 

I dropped Laura. In the course of the next twelve 
months I had perhaps three or four similar experi- 
ences, and the conclusion was forced upon me that I 
was not a boy likely to distinguish myself in this 
branch of business. 

I fought shy of Primrose Hall from that moment. 
Smiles were smiled over the boxwood hedge, and little 
hands were occasionally kissed to me ; but I only 
winked my eye patronizingly, and passed on. I 
never renewed tender relations with Miss Gibbs's 
young ladies. All this occurred during my first year 
and a half at Eivermouth. 

Between my studies at school, my out-door recrea- 
tions, and the hurts my vanity received, I managed 
to escape for the time being any very serious attack 
of that love fever which, like the measles, is almost 
certain to seize upon a boy sooner or later. I was 
not to be an exception. I was merely biding my 
time. The incidents I have now to relate took place 
shortly after the events described in the last chapter. 

In a life so tranquil and circumscribed as ours in 
the Nutter House, a visitor was a novelty of no little 



216 



THE STORY OF A BAD BOY. 



importance. The whole household awoke from its 
quietude one morning when the Captain announced 
that a young niece of his from New York was to 
spend a few weeks with us. 

The blue-chintz room, into which a ray of sun was 
never allowed to penetrate, was thrown open and 
dusted, and its mouldy air made sweet with a 
bouquet of pot-roses placed on the old-fashioned 
bureau. Eatty was busy all the forenoon washing 
off the sidewalk and sand-papering the great brass 
knocker on our front-door ; and Miss Abigail was up 
to her elbows in a pigeon-pie. 

I felt sure it was for no ordinary person that aU 
these preparations were in progress ; and I was right. 
Miss Nelly Glentworth was no ordinary person. I 
shall never believe she was. There may have been 
lovelier women, though I have never seen them ; there 
may have been more brilliant women, though it has 
not been my fortune to meet them ; but that there 
was ever a more charming one than Nelly Glent- 
worth is a proposition against which I contend. 

I don't love her now. I don't think of her once 
in five years ; and yet it would give me a turn if in 
the course of my daily walk I should suddenly come 
upon her eldest boy. I may say that her eldest boy 
was not playing a prominent part in this life when I 
first made her acquaintance. 

It was a drizzling, cheerless afternoon towards the 
end of summer that a hack drew up at the door of 
the Nutter House. The Captain and Miss Abigail 



A FROG HE WOULD A-WOOING GO. 



217 



hastened into the hall on hearing the carriage stop. 
In a moment more Miss Nelly Glentworth was seated 
in our sitting-room undergoing a critical examination 
at the hands of a small boy who lounged uncomfort- 
ably on a settee between the windows. 

The small boy considered himself a judge of girls, 
and he rapidly came to the following conclusions : That 
Miss Nelly was about nineteen; that she had not 
given away much of her back hair, which hung in 
two massive chestnut braids over her shoulders ; that 
she was a shade too pale and a trifle too tall ; that her 
hands were nicely shaped and her feet much too di- 
minutive for daily use. He furthermore observed that 
her voice was musical, and that her face lighted up 
with an indescribable brightness when she smiled. 

On the whole, the small boy liked her well 
enough ; and, satisfied that she was not a person to 
be afraid of, but, on the contrary, one who might be 
made quite agreeable, he departed to keep an appoint- 
ment with his friend Sir Pepper Whitcomb. 

But the next morning when Miss Glentworth came 
down to breakfast in a purple dress, her face as fresh 
as one of the moss-roses on the bureau up stairs, and 
her laugh as contagious as the merriment of a robin, 
the small boy experienced a strange sensation, and 
mentally compared her with the loveliest of Miss 
Gibbs's young ladies, and found those young ladies 
wanting in the balance. 

A night's rest had wrought a wonderful change in 
Tvliss Nelly. The pallor and weariness of the journey 



218 THE STORY OF A BAD BOY. 

had passed away. I looked at her through the toast- 
rack and thought I had never seen anything more 
winning than her smile. 

After breakfast she went out with me to the stable 
to see Gypsy, and the three of us became friends 
then and there. Nelly was the only girl that Gypsy 
ever took the slightest notice of. 

It chanced to be a half-holiday, and a base-ball 
match of unusual interest was to come off on the 
school ground that afternoon; but, somehow, I did 
n't go. I hung about the house abstractedly. The 
Captain went up town, and Miss Abigail was busy in 
the kitchen making immortal gingerbread. I drifted 
into the sitting-room, and had our guest aU to my- 
self for I don't know how many hours. It was twi- 
light, I recollect, when the Captain returned with 
letters for Miss Nelly. 

Many a time after that I sat with her through the 
dreamy September afternoons. If I had played base- 
ball it would have been much better for me. 

Those first days of Miss Nelly's visit are very 
misty in my remembrance. I try in vain to re- 
member just when I began to fall in love with her. 
Whether the speU worked upon me gradually or fell 
upon me all at once, I don't know. I only know 
that it seemed to me as if I had always loved her. 
Things that took place before she came were dim to 
me, like events that had occurred in the Middle Ages. 

NeUy was at least five years my senior. But what 
of that ? Adam is the only man I ever heard of 



A FROG HE WOULD A-WOOING GO. 



219 



who did n't in early youth fall in love with a woman 
older than himself, and I am convinced that he would 
have done so if he had had the opportunity. 

I wonder if girls from fifteen to twenty are aw^are 
of the glamour they cast over the straggling, awk- 
w^ard boys whom they regard and treat as mere chil- 
dren ? I wonder, now. Young women are so keen in 
such matters. I wonder if Miss Nelly Glentworth 
never suspected until the very last night of her visit 
at Eivermouth that I was over ears in love with her 
pretty self, and was suffering pangs as poignant as if 
I had been ten feet high and as old as Methuselah ? 
For, indeed, I was miserable throughout all those five 
weeks. I ^vent down in the Latin class at the rate 
of three boys a day. Her fresh young eyes came 
between me and my book, and there was an end of 
Virgil. 

" O love, love, love ! 

Love is like a dizziness, 
It winna let a body- 
Gang aboot his business." 

I was wretched away from her, and only less 
■^Tetched in her presence. The especial cause of my 
woe was this : I was simply a little boy to Miss Glent- 
worth. I knew it. I bewailed it. I ground my teetli 
and wept in secret over the fact. If I had been aught 
else in her eyes would she have smoothed my hair so 
carelessly, sending an electric shock through my 
whole system ? would she have walked with me, 
hand in hand, for hours in the old garden ? and once 
when I lay on the sofa, my head aching with love 



220 



THE STORY OF A BAD BOY. 



and mortification, would she have stooped down and 
kissed me if I had n't been a little boy ? How I de- 
spised little boys ! How I hated one particular little 
boy, — too little to be loved ! 

I smile over this very grimly even now. My sor- 
row was genuine and bitter. It is a great mistake on 
the part of elderly ladies, male and female, to tell a 
child that he is seeing his happiest days. Don't you 
believe a word of it, my little friend. The burdens 
of childhood are as hard to bear as the crosses that 
weigh us down later in life, while the happinesses 
of childhood are tame compared with those of our 
maturer years. And even if this were not so, it is 
rank cruelty to throw shadows over the young heart 
by croaking, " Be merry, for to-morrow you die ! " 

As the last days of Nelly's visit drew near, I fell 
into a very unhealthy state of mind. To have her 
so frank and unconsciously coquettish with me was 
a daily torment ; to be looked upon and treated as a 
child was bitter almonds ; but the thought of losing 
her altogether was distraction. 

The summer was at an end. The days were per- 
ceptibly shorter, and now and then came an evening 
when it was chilly enough to have a wood-fire in our 
sitting-room. The leaves were beginning to take 
hectic tints, and the wind was practising the minor 
pathetic notes of its autumnal dirge. Nature and 
myself appeared to be approaching our dissolution 
simultaneously. 

One evening, the evening previous to the day set 



A FROG HE WOULD A-WOOING GO. 



221 



for Nelly's departure, — how well I remember it ! — 
I found her sitting alone by the wide chimney-piece 
looking musingly at the crackling back-log. There 
were no candles in the room. On her face and hands, 
and on the small golden cross at her throat, fell the 
flickering firelight, — that ruddy, mellow firelight in 
which one's grandmother would look poetical. 

I drew a low stool from the corner and placed it 
by the side of her chair. She reached out her hand 
to me, as was her pretty fashion, and so we sat for 
several moments silently in the changing glow of the 
burning logs. At length I moved back the stool so 
that I could see her face in profile without being 
seen by her. I lost her hand by this movement, but 
1 could n't have spoken with the listless touch of 
her fingers on mine. After two or three attempts I 
said " JSTelly " a good deal louder than I intended. 

Perhaps the effort it cost me was evident in my 
voice. She raised herself quickly in the chair and 
half turned towards me. 

"Well, Tom?" 

"I — I am very sorry you are going away." 
" So am I. I have enjoyed every hour of my visit." 
" Do you think you will ever come back here ? " 
" Perhaps," said iSTelly, and her eyes wandered off 
into the fitful firelight. 

"I suppose you will forget us all very quick- 

"Indeed I shall not. I shall always have the 
pleasantest memories of Eivermouth." 



222 



THE STORY OF A BAD BOY. 



Here the conversation died a natural death. Nelly 
sank into a sort of dream, and I meditated. Fearing 
every moment to be interrupted by some member of 
the family, I nerved myself to make a bold dash. 

"Nelly." 

" WeU " 

"Do you — " I hesitated. 

" Do I what ? " 

" Love any one very much ? " 

"Wliy, of course I do," said Nelly, scattering her 
re very with a merry laugh. " I love Uncle Nutter, 
and Aunt Nutter, and you, — and Towser." 

Towser, our new dog ! I could n't stand that. I 
pushed back the stool impatiently and stood in front 
of her. 

" That 's not what I mean," I said angrily. 

" Well, what do you mean ? " 

" Do you love any one to marry him ? " 

" The idea of it," cried Nelly, laughing. 

" But you must tell me." 

" Must, Tom ? " 

" Indeed you must, Nelly." 

She had risen from the chair with an amused, per- 
plexed look in her eyes. I held her an instant by 
the dress. 

" Please tell me." 

" you silly boy ! " cried Nelly. Then she rum- 
pled my hair all over my forehead and ran laughing 
out of the room. 

Suppose Cinderella had rumpled the prince's hair 



A FROG HE WOULD A-WOOING GO. 223 

all over his forehead, how would he have liked it ? 
Suppose the Sleeping Beauty, when the king's son 
with a kiss set her and all the old clocks agoing in 
the spell-bound castle, — suppose the young minx 
had looked up and coolly laughed in his eye, I guess 
the king's son would n't have been greatly pleased. 

I hesitated a second or two and then rushed after 
Nelly just in time to run against Miss Abigail, who 
entered the room with a couple of lighted candles. 

" Goodness gracious, Tom ! " exclaimed Miss Abi- 
gail, " are you possessed ? " 

I left her scraping the warm spermaceti from one 
of her thumbs. 

Xelly was in the kitchen talking quite unconcern- 
edly with Kitty Collins. There she remained until 
supper-time. Supper over, we all adjourned to the 
sitting-room. I planned and plotted, but could man- 
age in no way to get Nelly alone. She and the Cap- 
tain played cribbage all the evening. 

The next morning my lady did not make her ap- 
pearance until we were seated at the breakfast-table. 
I had got up at daylight myself Immediately after 
breakfast the carriage arrived to take her to the rail- 
way station. A gentleman stepped from this carriage, 
and greatly to my surprise was warmly welcomed by 
the Captain and Miss Abigail, and by Miss Nelly 
herseK, who seemed unnecessarily glad to see him. 
From the hasty conversation that followed I learned 
that the gentleman had come somewhat unexpectedly 
to conduct Miss Nelly to Boston. But how did he 



224 



THE STORY OF A BAD BOY. 



know that she was to leave that morning ? Nelly 
bade farewell to the Captain and Miss Abigail, made 
a* little rush and kissed me on the nose, and was 
gone. 

As the wheels of the hack rolled up the street 
and over my finer feelings, I turned to the Captain. 

" Who was that gentleman, sir ? " 

" That was Mr. Waldron." 

" A relation of yours, sir ? " I asked craftily. 

" No relation of mine, — ^ a relation of Nelly's," said 
the Captain, smiling. 

"A cousin," I suggested, feeling a strange hatred 
spring up in my bosom for the unknown. 

" Well, I suppose you might call him a cousin for 
the present. He 's going to marry little Nelly next 
summer." 

In one of Peter Parley's valuable historical works 
is a description of an earthquake at Lisbon. " At the 
first shock the inhabitants rushed into the streets; 
the earth yawned at their feet and the houses tot- 
tered and fell on every side." I staggered past the 
Captain into the street ; a giddiness came over me ; 
the earth yawned at my feet, and the houses threat- 
ened to fall in on every side of me. How distinctly 
I remember that momentary sense of confusion when 
everything in the world seemed toppling over into 
ruins. 

As I have remarked, my love for Nelly is a thing 
of the past. I had not thought of her for years until 
I sat down to write this chapter, and yet, now that 



A FROG HE WOULD A-WOOING GO. 



225 



all is said and done, I should n't care particularly to 
come across Mrs. Waldron's eldest boy in my after- 
noon's walk. He must be fourteen or fifteen years 
old by this time, — the young villaia J 



226 



THE STORY OF A BAD BOY. 



CHAPTEE XIX. 



I BECOME A BLIGHTED BEING. 



HEN a young boy gets to 
be an old boy, when the 
hair is growing rather thin 
on the top of the old boy's 
head, and he has been 
tamed sufficiently to take 
a sort of chastened pleas- 
ure in allowing the baby to 
play with his watch-seals, 
— when, I say, an old boy 
has reached tliis stage in 
the journey of life, he is 
sometimes apt to indulge 
in sportive remarks con- 
cerning his first love. 

Now, though I bless my 
stars that it was n't in my 
power to marry Miss Nelly, 
I am not going to deny ni}^ 
boyish regard for her nor laugh at it. As long as it 
lasted it was a very sincere and unselfish love, and 
rendered me proportionately wretched. I say as long 
as it lasted, for one's first love does n't last forever. 




I BECOME A BLIGHTED BEING. 



227 



I am ready, however, to laugh at the amusing fig- 
ure I cut after I had really ceased to have any deep 
feeling in the matter. It was then I took it into my 
head to be a Blighted Being. This was about two 
weeks after the spectral appearance of Mr. Wal- 
dron. 

For a boy of a naturally vivacious disposition the 
part of a blighted being presented difi&culties. I had 
an excellent appetite, I liked society, I liked out-of- 
door sports, I was fond of handsome clothes. Now 
all these things were incompatible with the doleful 
character I was to assume, and I proceeded to cast 
them from me. I neglected my hair. I avoided my 
playmates. I frowned abstractedly. I did n't eat as 
much as was good for me. I took lonely walks. I 
brooded in solitude. I not only committed to mem- 
ory the more turgid poems of the late Lord Byron, — 
" Fare thee well, and if forever," &c., — but I became 
a despondent poet on my own account, and composed 
a string of "Stanzas to One who will understand 
them." I think I was a trifle too hopeful on that 
point; for I came across the verses several years 
afterwards, and was quite unable to understand them 
myself. 

It was a great comfort to be so perfectly miserable 
and yet not suffer any. I used to look in the glass 
and gloat over the amount and variety of mournful 
expression I could throw into my features. If I 
caught myself smiling at anything, I cut the smile 
short with a sigh. The oddest thing about all this is, 



228 



THE STORY OF A BAD BOY. 



I never once suspected that I was not unhappy. No 
one, not even Pepper Whitcomb, was more deceived 
than I. 

Among the minor pleasures of being blighted were 
the interest and perplexity I excited in the simple 
souls that were thrown in daily contact with me. 
Pepper especially. I nearly drove him into a corre- 
sponding state of mind. 

I had from time to time given -Pepper slight but 
impressive hints of my admiration for Some One 
(this was in the early part of Miss Glentworth's visit) ; 
I had also led him to infer that my admiration was 
not altogether in vain. He was therefore unable to 
explain the cause of my strange behavior, for I had 
carefully refrained from mentioning to Pepper the fact 
that Some One had turned out to be Another's. 

I treated Pepper shabbily. I could n't resist play- 
ing on his tenderer feelings. He was a boy bubbling 
over with sympathy for any one in any kind of trou- 
ble. Our intimacy since Binny Wallace's death had 
been uninterrupted ; but now I moved in a sphere 
apart, not to be profaned by the step of an outsider. 

I no longer joined the boys on the play-ground at 
recess. I stayed at my desk reading some lugubrious 
volume, — usually The Mysteries of Udolpho, by the 
amiable Mrs. Eadcliffe. A translation of The Sor- 
rows of Werter fell into my hands at this period, 
and if I could have committed suicide without kill- 
ing myself, I should certainly have done so. 

On half-holidays, instead of fraternizing with Pep- 



I BECOME A BLIGHTED BEING. 



229 



per and the rest of our clique, I would wander off 
alone to Grave Point. 

Grave Point — the place where Binny Wallace's 
body came ashore — was a narrow strip of land run- 
ning out into the river. A line of Lombardy poplars, 
stiff and severe, like a row of grenadiers, mounted 
guard on the water-side. On the extreme end of the 
peninsula was an old disused graveyard, tenanted 
principally by the early settlers who had been scalped 
by the Indians. In a remote comer of the cemetery, 
set apart from the other mounds, was the grave of a 
woman who had been hanged in the old colonial 
times for the murder of her infant. Goodwife PoUy 
Haines had denied the crime to the last, and after her 
death there had arisen strong doubts as to her actual 
guilt. It was a belief current among the lads of the 
town, that if you went to this grave at nightfall on 
the 10th of November, — the anniversary of her 
execution, — and asked, " For what did the magis- 
trates hang you ? " a voice would reply, " Nothing." 

Many a Eivermouth boy has tremblingly put this 
question in the dark, and, sure enough, Polly Haines 
invariably answered nothing ! 

A low red-brick wall, broken down in many places 
and frosted over with silvery moss, surrounded this 
burial-ground of our Pilgrim Fathers and their imme- 
diate descendants. The latest date on any of the 
headstones was 1780. A crop of very funny epi- 
taphs sprung up here and there among the overgrown 
thistles and burdocks, and almost every tablet had a 



230 



THE STORY OF A BAD BOY. 



death's-head with cross-bones engraved upon it, oi 
else a puffy round face with a pair of wings stretch- 
ing out from the ears, like this i ^ 




These mortuary emblems furnished me with con- 
genial food for reflection. I used to lie in the long 
grass, and speculate on the advantages and disadvan- 
tages of being a cherub. 

I forget what I thought the advantages were, but I 
remember distinctly of getting into an inextricable 
tangle on two points : How could a cherub, being all 
head and wings, manage to sit down when he was 
tired ? To have to sit down on the back of his head 
struck me as an awkward alternative. Again : 
Where did a cherub carry those indispensable articles 
(such as jack-knives, marbles, and pieces of twine) 
which boys in an earthly state of existence usually 
stow away in their trousers-pockets ? 

These were knotty questions, and I was never able 
to dispose of them satisfactorily. 

Meanwhile Pepper Wliitcomb would scour the 
whole town in search of me. He finally discovered 
my retreat, and dropped in on me abruptly one 
afternoon, while I was deep in the cherub problem. 

" Look here, Tom Bailey ! " said Pepper, shying a 
piece of clam-shell indignantly at the Hie jacet on a 
neighboring gravestone, "you are just going to the 



I BECOME A BLIGHTED BEING. 231 



dogs ! Can't you tell a fellow what in thunder ails 
you, instead of prowling round among the tombs like 
a jolly old vampire ? " 

" Pepper," I replied, solemnly, " don't ask me. All 
is not well here," — touching my breast mysterious- 
ly. If I had touched my head instead, I should have 
been nearer the mark. 




PEPPER WHITCOMB REMONSTRATES. 



Pepper stared at me. 

« Earthly happiness," I continued, " is a delusion 



232 



THE STOKY OF A BAD BOY. 



and a snare. You will never be happy, Pepper, until 
you are a cherub." 

Pepper, by the by, would have made an excellent 
cherub, he was so chubby. Having delivered my- 
self of these gloomy remarks, I arose languidly from 
the gTass and moved away, leaving Pepper staring 
after me in mute astonishment. I was Hamlet and 
Werter and the late Lord Byron all in one. 

You will ask what my purpose was in cultivating 
this factitious despondency. None whatever. Blighted 
beings never have any purpose in life excepting to be 
as blighted as possible. 

Of course my present line of business could not 
long escape the eye of Captain Nutter. I don't know 
if the Captain suspected my attachment for Miss 
Glentworth. He never alluded to it ; but he watched 
me. Miss Abigail watched me, Kitty Collins watched 
me, and Sailor Ben watched me. 

" I can't make out his signals," I overheard the 
Admiral remark to my grandfather one day. " I hope 
he ain't got no kind of sickness aboard." 

There was something singularly agreeable in being 
an object of so great interest. Sometimes I had all 
I could do to preserve my dejected aspect, it was so 
pleasant to be miserable. I incline to the opinion 
that people who are melancholy without any partic- 
ular reason, such as poets, artists, and young musi- 
cians with long hair, have rather an enviable time of 
it. In a quiet way I never enjoyed myself better in 
my life than when I was a Blighted Being. 



IN WHICH I PROVE MYSELF, ETC. 233 



CHAPTEE XX. 

IN WHICH I PROVE MYSELF TO BE THE GRANDSON OF 
MY GRANDFATHER. 

T was not possible for a boy 
of my temperament to be 
a blighted being longer 
than three consecutive 
weeks. 

I was gradually emerg- 
ing from my self-imposed 
cloud when events took 
place that greatly assisted 
in restoring me to a more 
natural frame of mind. I 
awoke from an imaginary- 
trouble to face a real one. 

I suppose you don't 
know what a financial 
crisis is ? I will give you 
an illustration. 

You are deeply in debt 
— say to the amount of a 
quarter of a dollar — to the little knicknack shop 
round the corner, where they sell picture-papers, 
apruce-gum, needles, and Malaga raisins. A boy 




234 



THE STORY OF A BAD BOY. 



owes you a quarter of a dollar, which he promises to 
pay at a certain time. You are depending on this 
quarter to settle accounts with the small shop-keeper. 
The time arrives, — and the quarter does n't. That 's 
a financial crisis, in one sense, — in twenty-five senses, 
if I may say so. 

When this same thing happens, on a grander scale, 
in the mercantile world, it produces what is called a 
panic. One man's inability to pay his debts ruins 
another man, who, in turn, ruins some one else, and 
so on, until failure after failure makes even the rich- 
est capitalists tremble. Public confidence is sus- 
pended, and the smaller fry of merchants are knocked 
over like tenpins. 

These commercial panics occur periodically, after 
the fashion of comets and earthquakes and other dis- 
agreeable things. Such a panic took place in New 
Orleans in the year 18 — , and my father's banking- 
house went to pieces in the crash. 

Of a comparatively large fortune nothing remained 
after paying his debts excepting a few thousand dol- 
lars, with which he proposed to return North and 
embark in some less hazardous enterprise. In the 
mean time it was necessary for him to stay in New 
Orleans to wind up the business. 

My grandfather was in some way involved in this 
failure, and lost, I fancy, a considerable sum of money ; 
but he never talked much on the subject. He was 
an unflinching believer in the spilt-milk proverb. 

" It can't be gathered up," he would say, " and it 's 



IN WHICH I PROVE MYSELF, ETC. 235 



no use crying over it. Pitch into the cow and get 
some more milk, is my motto." 

The suspension of the banking-house was bad 
enough, but there was an attending circumstance 
that gave us, at Eivermouth, a great deal more anx- 
iety. The cholera, which some one predicted would 
visit the country that year, and which, indeed, had 
made its appearance in a mild form at several points 
along the Mississippi Eiver, had broken out with 
much violence at New Orleans. 

The report that first reached us through the news- 
papers was meagre and contradictory; many people 
discredited it ; but a letter from my mother left us 
no room for doubt. The sickness was in the city. 
The hospitals were filling up, and hundreds of the 
citizens were flying from the stricken place by every 
steamboat. The unsettled state of my father's affairs 
made it imperative for him to remain at his post ; his 
desertion at that moment would have been at the 
sacrifice of all he had saved from the general wreck. 

As he would be detained in New Orleans at least 
three months, my mother dec"'«'ined to come North 
without him. 

After this we awaited with feverish impatience the 
weekly news that came to us from the South. The 
next letter advised us that my parents were well, and 
that the sickness, so far, had not penetrated to the 
faubourg, or district, where they lived. The follow- 
ing week brought less 'cheering tidings. My father's 
business, in consequence of the flight of the other 



236 



THE STORY OF A BAD BOY. 



partners, would keep him in the city beyond the 
period he had mentioned. The family had moved to 
Pass Christian, a favorite watering-place on Lake 
Pontchartrain, near New Orleans, where he was able 
to spend part of each week. So the return North 
was postponed indefinitely. 

It was now that tlie old longing to see my parents 
came back to me with irresistible force. I knew my 
grandfather would not listen to the idea of my going 
to New Orleans at such a dangerous time, since he 
had opposed the journey so strongly when the same 
objection did not exist. But I determined to go 
nevertheless. 

I think I have mentioned the fact that all the male 
members of our famil}^^ on my father's side, — as far 
back as the Middle Ages, — have exhibited in early 
youth a decided talent for running away. It was an 
hereditary talent. It ran in the blood to run away. 
I do not pretend to explain the peculiarity. I simply 
admit it. 

It was not my fate to change the prescribed order 
of things. I, too, was to run away, thereby proving, 
if any proof were needed, that I was the grandson 
of my grandfather. I do not hold myself responsi- 
ble for the step any more than I do for the shape of 
my nose, which is said to be a fac-simile of Captain 
Nutter's. 

I have frequently noticed how circumstances con- 
spire to help a man, or a boy, when he has thoroughly 
resolved on doing a thing. That very week the Biv- 



IN WHICH I PROVE MYSELF, ETC. 



237 



ermouth Barnacle printed an advertisement that 
seemed to have been written on purpose for me. It 
read as follows : — 

WANTED. — A Few Able-bodied Seamen and a Cabin-Boy, for the ship Raw 
hngs, now loading for New Orleans at Johnson's Wharf, Boston. Apply in per- 
son, within four days, at the ofi&ce of Messrs. — & Co., or on board th« 

Ship. 

How I was to get to New Orleans with only $4.62 
was a question that had been bothering me. This 
advertisement made it as clear as day. I would go 
as cabin-boy. 

I had taken Pepper into my confidence again ; I had 
told him the story of my love for Miss Glentworth, 
with aU its harrowing details ; and now conceived it 
judicious to confide in him the change about to take 
place in my life, so that, if the Eawlings went down 
in a gale, my friends might have the limited satisfac- 
tion of knowing what had become of me. 

Pepper shook his head discouragingly, and sought 
in every way to dissuade me from the step. He drew 
a disenchanting picture of the existence of a cabin- 
boy, whose constant duty (according to Pepper) was 
to have dishes broken over his head whenever the 
captain or the mate chanced to be out of humor, 
which was mostly all the time. But nothing Pepper 
said could turn me a hair's-breadth from my purpose. 

I had little time to spare, for the advertisement 
stated explicitly that applications were to be made 
in person within four days. I trembled to think of 
the bare possibility of some other boy snapping up 
that desirable situation. 



238 



THE STORY OF A BAD BOY. 



It was on Monday that I stumbled upon the adver- 
tisement. On Tuesday my preparations were com- 
pleted. My baggage — consisting of four shirts, half 
a dozen collars, a piece of shoemaker's wax, (Heaven 
knows what for!) and seven stockings, wrapped in a 
silk handkerchief — lay hidden under a loose plank 
of the stable floor. This was my point of departure- 

My plan was to take the last train for Boston, in 
order to prevent the possibility of immediate pursuit, 
if any should be attempted. The train left at 4 p. M. 

I ate no breakfast and little dinner that day. I 
avoided the Captain's eye, and would n't have looked 
Miss Abigail or Kitty in the face for the wealth of 
the Indies. 

When it was time to start for the station I retired 
quietly to the stable and uncovered my bundle. I 
lingered a moment to kiss the white star on Gypsy's 
forehead, and was nearly unmanned when the little 
animal returned the caress by lapping my cheek. 
Twice I went back and patted her. 

On reaching the station I purchased my ticket 
with a bravado air that ought to have aroused the 
suspicion of the ticket-master, and hurried to the 
car, where I sat fidgeting until the train shot out into 
the broad daylight. 

Then I drew a long breath and looked about me. 
The first object that saluted my sight was Sailor Ben, 
four or five seats behind me, reading the Eivermouth 
Barnacle ! 

Beading was not an easy art to Sailor Ben; he 



IN WHICH I PEOVE MYSELF, ETC. 



239 



grappled with the sense of a paragraph as if it were 
a polar-bear, and generally got the worst of it. On 
the present occasion he was having a hard struggle, 
judging by the way'he worked his mouth and rolled 
his eyes. He had evidently not seen me. But what 
was he doing on the Boston train ? 

Without lingering to solve the question, I stole 
gently from my seat and passed into the forward car. 

This was very awkward, having the Admiral on 
board. I could n't understand it at all. Could it be 
possible that the old boy had got tired of land and was 
running away to sea himself ? That was too absurd. 
I glanced nervously towards the car door now and 
then, half expecting to see him come after me. 

We had passed one or two way-stations, and I had 
quieted down a good deal, when I began to feel as if 
somebody was looking steadily at the back of my 
head. I turned round involuntarily, and there was 
Sailor Ben again, at the farther end of the car, wres- 
tling with the Kivermouth Barnacle as before. 

I began to grow very uncomfortable indeed. Was 
it by design or chance that he thus dogged my steps ? 
If he was aware of my presence, why did n't he speak 
to me at once ? Why did he steal round, making no 
sign, like a particularly unpleasant phantom ? Maybe 
it was n't Sailor Ben. I peeped at him slyly. There 
was no mistaking that tanned, genial phiz of his. 
Very odd he did n't see me ! 

Literature, even in the mild form of a country 
newspaper, always had the effect of poppies on the 



240 



THE STORY OF A BAD BOY. 



Admiral. When I stole another glance in his direc- 
tion his hat was tilted over his right eye in the most 
dissolute style, and the Eivermouth Barnacle lay in a 
confused heap beside him. He had succumbed. He 
was fast asleep. If he would only keep asleep until 
we reached our destination ! 

By and by I discovered that the rear car had been 
detached from the train at the last stopping-place. 
This accounted satisfactorily for Sailor Ben's singular 
movements, and considerably calmed my fears. Nev- 
ertheless, I did not like the aspect of things. 

The Admiral continued to snooze like a good fel- 
low, and was snoring melodiously as we glided at a 
slackened pace over a bridge and into Boston. 

I grasped my pilgrim's bundle, and, hurrying out 
of the car, dashed up the first street that presented 
itself. 

It was a narrow, noisy, zigzag street, crowded with 
trucks and obstructed with bales an,d boxes of mer- 
chandise. I did n't pause to breathe until I had 
placed a respectable distance between me and the 
railway station. By this time it was nearly twi- 
light. 

I had got into the region of dwelling-houses, and 
was about to seat myself on a doorstep to rest, when, 
lo ! there was the Admiral trundling along on the 
opposite sidewalk, under a full spread of canvas, as 
he would have expressed it. 

I was off again in an instant at a rapid pace ; but 
in spite of aU I could do he held his own without 



IN WHICH I PROVE MYSELF, ETC. 



24i 




SINGULAR CONDUCT OF SAILOR BEN. 



any perceptible exertion. He had a very ngly gait 

to get away from, the Admiral. I did n't dare to 

run, for fear of being mistaken for a thief, a suspicion 

which my bundle would naturally lend color to. 

T pushed ahead, however, at a brisk trot, and must 

have got over one or two miles, — my pursuer neither 

gaining nor losing ground, — when I concluded to 

surrender at discretion. I saw that Sailor Ben was 

determined to have me, and, knomng my man, I knew 

that escape was highly improbable. 

11 1. 



242 



THE STORY OF A BAD BOY. 



So I turned round and waited for him to catch up 
with me, which he did in a few seconds, looking rather 
sheepish at first. 

" Sailor Ben," said I, severely, do I understand 
that you are dogging my steps ? " 

" Well, little messmate," replied the Admiral, rub- 
bing his nose, which he always did when he was dis- 
concerted, " I am kind o' followin' in your wake." 

" Under orders ? " 

" Under orders." 

" Under the Captain's orders ? " 

" Sure-ly." 

" In other words, my grandfather has sent you to 
fetch me back to Eivermouth ? " 

" That 's about it," said the Admiral, with a burst 
of frankness. 

" And I must go with you whether I want to or 
not ? " 

" The Capen's very identical words ! " 

There was nothing to be done. I bit my lips with 
suppressed anger, and signified that I was at his dis- 
posal, since I could n't help it. The impression was 
very strong in my mind that the Admiral would n't 
hesitate to put me in irons if I showed signs of 
mutiny. 

It was too late to return to Eivermouth that night, 
— a fact which I communicated to the old boy sul- 
lenly, inquiring at the same time what he proposed to 
do about it. 

He said we would cruise about for some rations, and 



IN WHICH I PROYE MYSELF, ETC. 243 

then make a night of it. I did n't condescend to 
reply, though I hailed the suggestion of something 
to eat with inward enthusiasm, for I had not taken 
enough food that day to keep life in a canary. 

We wandered back to the railway station, in the 
waiting-room of which was a kind of restaurant pre- 
sided over by a severe -looking young lady. Here we 
had a cup of coffee apiece, several tough doughnuts, 
and some blocks of venerable sponge-cake. The 
young lady who attended on us, whatever her age 
was then, must have been a mere child when that 
sponge-cake was made. 

The Admiral's acquaintance with Boston hotels 
was slight; but he knew of a quiet lodging-house 
near by, much patronized by sea-captains, and kept 
by a former friend of his. 

In this house, which had seen its best days, we 
were accommodated with a mouldy chamber contain- 
ing two cot-beds, two chairs, and a cracked pitcher on 
a washstand. The mantel-shelf was ornamented with 
three big pink conch-shells, resembling pieces of pet- 
rified liver ; and over these hung a cheap lurid print, 
in which a United States sloop-of-war was giving a 
British frigate particular fits. It is very strange how 
our o^v^l ships never seem to suffer any in these terri- 
ble engagements. It shows what a nation we are. 

An oil-lamp on a deal-table cast a dismal glare 
over the apartment, which was cheerless in the ex- 
treme. I thought of our sitting-room at home, with 
its flowery waU-paper and gay curtains and soft 



244 



THE STORY OF A BAD BOY. 



lounges ; I saw Major Elkanah Nutter (my grand- 
father's father) in powdered wig and Federal uniform, 
looking down benevolently from his gilt frame be- 
tween the bookcases ; I pictured the Captain and 
Miss Abigail sitting at the cosey round table in the 
moon-like glow of the astral lamp ; and then I fell 
to wondering how they would receive me when I 
came back. I wondered if the Prodigal Son had any 
idea that his father was going to kill the fatted calf ^ 
for him, and how he felt about it, on the whole. 

Though I was very low in spirits, I put on a bold 
front to Sailor Ben, you will understand. To be 
caught and caged in this manner was a frightful 
shock to my vanity. He tried to draw me into con- 
versation ; but I answered in icy monosyllables. He 
again suggested we should make a night of it, and 
hinted broadly that he was game for any amount of 
riotous dissipation, even to the extent of going to see 
a play if I wanted to. I declined haughtily. I was 
dying to go. 

He then threw out a feeler on the subject of dom- 
inos and checkers, and observed in a general way that 
" seven up " was a capital game ; but I repulsed him 
at every point. 

I saw that the Admiral was beginning to feel hurt 
by my systematic coldness. We had always been 
such hearty friends until now. It was too bad of me 
to fret that tender, honest old heart even for an hour. 
I really did love the ancient boy, and when, in a 
disconsolate way, he ordered up a pitcher of beer, I 



IN WHICH I PROVE MYSELF, ETC. 245 

unbent so far as to partake of some in a teacup. He 
recovered his spirits instantly, and took out his cuddy- 
clay pipe for a smoke. 

Between the beer and the soothing fragrance of the 
navy-plug, I fell into a pleasanter mood myself, and, 
it being too late now to go to the theatre, I conde- 
scended to say, — addressing the northwest corner of 
the ceiling, — that " seven up " was a capital game. 
Upon this hint the Admiral disappeared, and returned 
shortly with a very dirty pack of cards. 

As we played, with varying fortunes, by the flick- 
ering flame of the lamp, he sipped his beer and be- 
came communicative. He seemed immensely tickled 
by the fact that I had come to Boston. It leaked out 
presently that he and the Captain had had a wager on 
the subject. 

The discovery of my plans and who had discovered 
them were points on which the Admiral refused to 
throw any light. They had been discovered, however, 
and the Captain had laughed at the idea of my run- 
ning away. Sailor Ben, on the contrary, had stoutly 
contended that I meant to slip cable and be off. 
Whereupon the Captain offered to bet him a dollar 
that I would n't go. And it was partly on account 
of thi^ wager that Sailor Ben refrained from captur- 
ing me when he might have done so at the start. 

Now, as the fare to and from Boston, with the 
lodging expenses, would cost him at least five dollars, 
I did n't 5»ee what he gained by winning the wager. 
The Admiral rubbed his nose violently when this view 
of the case presented itself. 



246 



THE STORY OF A BAD BOY. 



I asked him why he did n't take me from the train 
at the first stopping-place and return to Eivermouth 
by the down train at 4.30. He explained : having 
purchased a ticket for Boston, he considered liimself 
bound to the owners (the stockholders of the road) 
to fulfil his part of the contract ! To use his own 
words, he had " shipped for the viage." 

This struck me as being so deliciously funny, that 
after I was in bed and the light was out, I could n't 
help laughing aloud once or twice. I suppose the 
Admiral must have thought I was meditating another 
escape, for he made periodical visits to my bed 
throughout the night, satisfying himself by kneading 
me all over that I had n't evaporated. 

I was all there the next morning, when Sailor Ben 
half awakened me by shouting merrily, " All hands 
on deck ! " The words rang in my ears like a part of 
my own dream, for I was at that instant climbing up 
the side of the Eawlings to offer myself as cabin- 
boy. 

The Admiral was obliged to shake me roughly two 
or three times before he could detach me from the 
dream. I opened my eyes with effort, and stared 
stupidly round the room. Bit by bit my real situa- 
tion dawned on me. AVhat a sickening sensation 
that is, when one is in trouble, to wake up feeling 
free for a moment, and then to find yesterday's sorrow 
all ready to go on again ! 

" Well, little messmate, how fares it ? 

I was too much depressed to reply. The thought 



IN WHICH I PROVE MYSELF, ETC. 



247 



of returning to Eivermouth chilled me. How could 
I face Captain Nutter, to say nothing of Miss Abigail 
and Kitty ? How the Temple Grammar School boys 
would look at me ! How Conway and Seth Rodgers 
would exult over my mortification ! And what if 
the Eev. Wibird Hawkins should allude to me in his 
next Sunday's sermon ? 

Sailor Ben was wise in keeping an eye on me, for 
after these thoughts took possession of my mind, 
T wanted only the opportunity to give him the 
slip. 

The keeper of the lodgings did not supply meals 
to his guests ; so we breakfasted at a small chop- 
house in a crooked street on our way to the cars. 
The city was not astir yet, and looked glum and 
careworn in the damp morning atmosphere. ^ 

Here and there as we passed along was a sharp- 
faced shop-boy taking down shutters ; and now and 
then we met a seedy man who had evidently spent 
the night in a doorway. Such early birds and a few 
laborers with their tin kettles were the only signs of 
life to be seen until we came to the station, where 
I insisted on paying for my own ticket. I did n't 
relish being conveyed from place to place, like a 
felon changing prisons, at somebody else's expense. 

On entering the car I sunk into a seat next the 
window, and Sailor Ben deposited himself beside me, 
cutting off all chance of escape. 

The car filled up soon after this, and I wondered 
if there was anything in my mien that would lead 



248 



THE STORY OF A BAD BOY. 



the other passengers to suspect I was a boy who had 
run away and was being brought back. 

A man in front of us — he was near-sighted, as I 
discovered later by his reading a guide-book with his 
nose — brought the blood to my cheeks by turning 
round and peering at me steadily. I rubbed a clear 
spot on the cloudy window-glass at my elbow, and 
looked out to avoid him. 

There, in the travellers' room, was the severe-look- 
ing young lady piling up her blocks of sponge-cake 
in alluring pjrramids and industriously intrenching 
herself behind a breastwork of squash-pie. I saw 
with cynical pleasure numerous victims walk up to 
the counter and recklessly sow the seeds of death in 
their constitutions by eating her doughnuts. I had 
got quite interested in her, when the whistle sounded 
and the train began to move. 

The Admiral and I did not talk much on the jour- 
ney. I stared out of the window most of the time, 
speculating as to the probable nature of the reception 
in store for me at the terminus of the road. 

What would tlie Captain say ? and Mr. Grimshaw, 
what would he do about it ? Then I thought of Pep- 
per Whitcomb. Dire was the vengeance I meant to 
wreak on Pepper, for who but he had betrayed me ? 
Pepper alone had been the repository of my secret, 
— perfidious Pepper! 

As we left station after station behind us, I felt 
less and less like encountering the members of our 
family. Sailor Ben fathomed what was passing in 
my mind, for he leaned over and said : — 



IN WHICH 1 PROVE MYSELF, ETC. 249 

" I don't think as the Capen will bear down very 
hard on you." 

But it was n't that. It was n't the fear of any 
physical punishment that might be inflicted ; it was 
a sense of my own folly that was creeping over me ; 
for during the long, silent ride I had examined my 
conduct from every stand-point, and there was no 
view I could take of myseK in which I did not look 
like a very foolish person indeed. 

As we came within sight of the spires of Eiver- 
m(?uth, I would n't have cared if the up train, which 
met us outside the town, had run into us and ended 
me. 

Contrary to my expectation and dread, the Captain 
was not visible when we stepped from the cars. Sai- 
lor Ben glanced among the crowd of faces, apparent- 
ly looking for him too. Conway was there, — he was 
always hanging about the station, — and if he had 
intimated in any way that he knew of my disgrace 
and enjoyed it, I should have walked into him, I am 
certain. 

But this defiant feeling entirely deserted me by 
the time we reached the Nutter House. The Captain 
himself opened the door. 

" Come on board, sir," said Sailor Ben, scraping his 
left foot and touching his hat sea-fashion. 

My grandfather nodded to Sailor Ben, somewhat 
coldly I thought, and much to my astonishment kind- 
ly took me by the hand. 

I was unprepared for this, and the tears, which no 
II * 



250 



THE STOKY OF A BAD BOY. 



amount of severity would have wrung from me, wellfcd 
up to my eyes. 

The expression of my grandfather's face, as I 
glanced at it hastily, was grave and gentle; there 
was nothing in it of anger or reproof I followed 
him into the sitting-room, and, obeying a motion of 
his hand, seated myself on the sofa. He remained 
standing by the round table for a moment, lost in 
thought, then leaned over and picked up a letter. 

It was a letter with a great black seal 



IN WHICH I LEAVE RIVERMOUTH. 251 



CHAPTEK XXI. 

IN WHICH I LEAVE RIVERMOUTH. 

LETTEE with a great black 
seal ! 

I knew then what had 
happened as well as I know 
it now. But which was it, 
father or mother ? I do not 
like to look back to the ag- 
ony and suspense of that 
moment. 

. My father had died at 
Wew Orleans during one 
of his weekly visits to the 
city. The letter bearing 
these tidings had reached 
Eivermouth the evening of 
my flight, — had passed me 
on the road by the down 
train. 

I must turn back for a 
moment to that eventful evening. When I failed to 
make my appearance at supper, the Captain began to 
suspect that I had really started on my wild tour 
southward, — a conjecture which Sailor Ben's absence 




252 



THE STOEY OF A BAD BOY. 



helped to confirm. I had evidently got off by the 
train and Sailor Ben had followed me. 

There was no telegraphic communication between 
Boston and Eivermouth in those days ; so my grand- 
father could do nothing but await the result. Even 
if there had been another mail to Boston, he could 
not have availed himself of it, not knowing how to 
address a message to the fugitives. The post-of&ce 
was naturally the last place either I or the Admiral 
would think of visiting. 

My grandfather, however, was too full of trouble 
to allow this to add to his distress. He knew that 
the faithful old sailor would not let me come to any 
harm, and even if I had managed for the time being 
to elude him, was sure to bring me back sooner or 
later. 

Our return, therefore, by the first train on the fol- 
lowing day did not surprise him. 

I was greatly puzzled, as I have said, by the gentle 
manner of his reception ; but when we were alone 
together in the sitting-room, and he began slowly to 
unfold the letter, I understood it all. I caught a 
sight of my mother's handwriting in the superscrip- 
tion, and there was nothing left to tell me. 

My grandfather held the letter a few seconds irres- 
olutely, and then commenced reading it aloud ; but 
he could get no further than the date. 

" I can't read it, Tom," said the old gentleman, 
breaking down. " I thought I could." 

He handed it to me. I took the letter mechan- 



IN WHICH I LEAVE RI VERMOUTH. 253 

ically, and hurried away with it to my little room, 
where I had passed so many happy hours. 

The week that followed the receipt of this letter is 
nearly a blank in my memory. I remember that 
the days appeared endless ; that at times I could not 
realize the misfortune that had befallen us, and my 
heart upbraided me for not feeling a deeper grief; 
that a full sense of my loss would now and then 
sweep over me like an inspiration, and I would steal 
away to my chamber or wander forlornly about the 
gardens. I remember this, but little more. 

As the days went by my first grief subsided, and 
in its place grew up a want which I have experienced 
at every step in life from boyhood to manhood. Of- 
ten, even now, after all these years, when I see a lad 
of twelve or fourteen walking by his father's side, 
and glancing merrily up at his face, I turn and look 
after them, and am conscious that I have missed com- 
panionship most sweet and sacred. 

I shall not dwell on this portion of my story. 
There were many tranquil, pleasant hours in store for 
me at that period, and I prefer to turn to them. 

One evening the Captain came smiling into the 
sitting-room with an open letter in his hand. My 
mother had arrived at New York, and would be with 
us the next day. For the first time in weeks — years, 
it seemed to me — something of the old cheerfulness 
mingled with our conversation round the evening 
lamp. I was to go to Boston with the Captain to 



254 



THE STORY OF A BAD BOY. 



meet her and bring her home. I need not describe 
that meeting. With my mother's hand in mine once 
more, all the long years we had been parted appeared 
like a dream. Very dear to me was the sight of that 
slender, pale woman passing from room to room, and 
lending a patient grace and beauty to the saddened 
life of the old house. 

Everything was changed with us now. There were 
consultations with lawyers, and signing of papers, 
and correspondence ; for my father's affairs had been 
left in great confusion. And when these were settled, 
the evenings were not long enough for us to hear all 
my mother had to tell of the scenes she had passed 
through in the ill-fated city. 

Then there w^ere old times to talk over, full of 
reminiscences of Aunt Chloe and little Black Sam. 
Little Black Sam, by the by, had been taken by his 
master from my father's service ten months previously, 
and put on a sugar-plantation near Baton Eouge. 
'Not relishing the change, Sam had run away, and by 
some mysterious agency got into Canada, from which 
place he had sent back several indecorous messages 
to his late owner. Aunt Chloe was still in New Or- 
leans, employed as nurse in one of the cholera hospi- 
tal wards, and the Desmoulins, near neighbors of 
ours, had purchased the pretty stone house among the 
orange-trees. 

How all these simple details interested me will 
be readily understood by any boy who has been long 
absent from home. 



IN WHICH I LEAVE RIVERMOUTH. 



255 



I was sorry when it became necessary to discuss 
q^uestions more nearly affecting myself. I had been 
removed from school temporarily, but it was decided, 
after much consideration, that I should not return, 
the decision being left, in a manner, in my own 
hands. 

The Captain wished to carry out his son's intention 
and send me to college, for which I was nearly fitted ; 
but our means did not admit of this. The Captain, 
too, could ill afford to bear the expense, for his losses 
by the failure of the New Orleans business had been 
heavy. Yet he insisted on the plan, not seeing clear- 
ly what other disposal to make of me. 

In the midst of our discussions a letter came from 
my Uncle Snow, a merchant in New York, generously 
offering me a place in his counting-house. The case 
resolved itself into this : If I went to college, I should 
have to be dependent on Captain Nutter for several 
years, and at the end of the collegiate course would 
have no settled profession. If I accepted my uncle's 
offer, I might hope to work my way to independence 
without loss of time. It was hard to give up the 
long-cherished dream of being a Harvard boy ; but 
I gave it up. 

The decision once made, it was Uncle Snow's wish 
that I should enter his counting-house immediately. 
The cause of my good uncle's haste was this, — he 
was afraid that I would turn out to be a poet before 
he could make a merchant of me. His fears were 
based upon the fact that I had published in the Riv- 



256 



THE STORY OF A BAD BOY. 



ermoutli Barnacle some verses addressed in a familiar 
manner "To the Moon." Now, the idea of a boy, 
with his living to get, placing himself in communi- 
cation with the Moon, struck the mercantile mind as 
monstrous. It was not only a bad investment, it wafi 
lunacy. 

We adopted Uncle Snow's views so far as to accede 
to his proposition forthwith. My mother, I neglected 
to say, was also to reside in New York. 

I shall not draw a picture of Pepper Whitcomb's 
disgust when the news was imparted to him, nor 
attempt to paint Sailor Ben's distress at the prospect 
of losing his little messmate. 

In the excitement of preparing for the journey I 
did n't feel any very deep regret myself. But when the 
moment came for leaving, and I saw my small trunk 
lashed up behind the carriage, then the pleasantness 
of the old life and a vague dread of the new came 
over me, and a mist filled my eyes, shutting out the 
group of schoolfellows, including all the members of 
the Centipede Club, who had come down to the house 
to see me off. 

As the carriage swept round the corner, I leaned 
out of the window to take a last look at Sailor Ben's 
cottage, and there was the Admiral's flag flying at 
half-mast. 

So I left Kivermouth, little dreaming that I was 
not to see the old place again for many and many 
a year. 



EXEUNT OMNES. 



257 



CHAPTEK XXII. 

EXEUNT OMNES. 



ITH the close of my school- 
days at Eivermouth this 
modest chronicle ends. 

The new life upon which 
I entered, the new friends 
and foes I encountered on 
the road, and what I did and 
what I did not, are matters 
that do not come within the 
scope of these pages. But 
before I write Finis to the 
record as it stands, before I 
leave it, — feeling as if I 
were once more going away 
from my boyhood, — I have 
a word or two to say con- 
cerning a few of the per- 
sonages who have figured 
in tlie story, if you will 
allow me to call Gypsy a personage. 

I am sure that the reader who has followed me 
thus far will be willing to hear what became of her, 
and Sailor Ben and Miss Abigail and the Captain. 




258 



THE STORY OF A BAD BOY. 



First about Gypsy. A month after my departure 
from Eivermoutli the Captain informed me by letter 
that he had parted with the little mare, according to 
' agreement. She had been sold to the ring-master of 
a travelling circus (I had stipulated on this disposal 
of her), and was about to set out on her travels. She 
did not disappoint my glowing anticipations, but be- 
came quite a celebrity in her way, — by dancing the 
polka to slow music on a pine-board ball-room con- 
structed for the purpose. 

I chanced once, a long while afterwards, to be in a 
country town where her troupe was giving exhibi- 
tions ; I even read the gaudily illumined show-bill, 
setting forth the accomplishments of 

^ke fcLt^-fcLmccL ^t'a.LLLCLn. ^Hck-SPani^, 

ZUIiEIKA!! 

FORMERLY OWNED BY 
THE PRINCE SHAZ-ZAMAN OF DAMASCUS, 

— but failed to recognize my dear little Mustang girl 
behind those high-sounding titles, and so, alas ! did 
not attend the performance. I hope all the praises 
she received and all the spangled trappings she wore 
did not spoil her ; but I am afraid they did, for she 
was always over much given to the vanities of this 
world ! 

Miss Abigail regulated the domestic destinies of 
my grandfather's household until the day of her 



EXEUNT OMNES. 



259 



death, which Dr. Theophilus Tredick solemnly averred 
was hastened by the inveterate habit she had con- 
tracted of swallowing unknown quantities of hot- 
drops whenever she fancied herself out of sorts. 
Eighty-seven empty phials were found in a bonnet- 
box on a shelf in her bedroom closet. 

The old house became very lonely when the family 
got reduced to Captain Nutter and Eatty ; and when 
Kitty passed away, my grandfather divided his time 
between Eivermouth and New York. 

Sailor Ben did not long survive his little Irish lass, 
as he always fondly called her. At his demise, which 
took place about six years since, he left his property 
in trust to the managers of a " Home for Aged Mar- 
iners." In his will, which was a very whimsical doc- 
ument, — written by himself, and worded with much 
shrewdness, too, • — he warned the Trustees that when 
he got " aloft " he intended to keep his " weather eye " 
on them, and should send " a speritual shot across 
their bows " and bring them to, if they did n't treat 
the Aged Mariners handsomely. 

He also expressed a wish to have his body stitched 
up in a shotted hammock and dropped into the har- 
bor ; but as he did not strenuously insist on this, and 
as it was not in accordance with my grandfather's 
preconceived notions of Christian burial, the Admiral 
was laid to rest beside Kitty, in the Old South Bury- 
ing Ground, with an anchor that would have delighted 
him neatly carved on his headstone. 

I am sorry the fire has gone out in the old ship's 



260 



THE STORY OF A BAD BOY. 



stove in that sky-blue cottage at the head of the 
wharf; 1 am sorry they have taken down the flag-staff 
and painted over the funny port-holes ; for I loved the 
old cabin as it was. They might have let it alone ! 

For several months after leaving Eivermouth I car- 
ried on a voluminous correspondence with Pepper 
Whitcomb ; but it gradually dwindled down to a sin- 
gle letter a month, and then to none at all. But 
while he remained at the Temple Grammar School 
he kept me advised of the current gossip of the town 
and the doings of the Centipedes. 

As one by one the boys left the academy, — Adams, 
Harris, Harden, Blake, and Langdon, — to seek their 
fortunes elsewhere, there was less to interest me in 
the old seaport ; and when Pepper himself went to 
Philadelphia to read law, I had no one to give me an 
inkling of what was going on. 

There was n't much to go on, to be sure. Great 
events no longer considered it worth their while to 
honor so quiet a place. One Fourth of July the 
Temple Grammar School burnt down, — set on fire, it 
was supposed, by an eccentric squib that was seen to 
bolt into an upper window, — and Mr. Grimshaw re- 
tired from public life, married, " and lived happily 
ever after," as the story-books say. 

The Widow Conway, I am able to state, did not 
succeed in enslaving Mr. Meeks, the apothecary, who 
united himself clandestinely to one of Miss Dorothy 
Gibbs's young ladies, and lost the patronage of Prim- 
rose Hall in consequence. 



EXEUNT OMNES. 



261 



Young Conway went into the grocery business with 
his ancient chum, Eodgers, — Eodgers & Conway ! I 
read the sign only last summer when I was down in 
Kivermouth, and had half a mind to pop into the 
shop and shake hands with him, and ask him if he 
wanted to fight. I contented myself, however, with 
flattening my nose against his dingy shop-window, 
and beheld Conway, in red whiskers and blue overalls, 
weighing out sugar for a customer, — giving him 
short weight, I '11 bet anything 1 

I have reserved my pleasantest word for the last. 
It is touching the Captain. The Captain is still hale 
and rosy, and if he does n't relate his exploit in the 
war of 1812 as spiritedly as he used to, he makes 
up by relating it more frequently and telling it dif- 
ferently every time ! He passes his winters in New 
York and his summers in the Nutter House, which 
threatens to prove a hard nut for the destructive gen- 
tleman with the scythe and the hour-glass, for the 
seaward gable has not yielded a clapboard to the east- 
wind these twenty years. The Captain has now be- 
come the Oldest Inhabitant in Eivermouth, and so I 
don't laugh at the Oldest Inhabitant any more, but 
pray in my heart that he may occupy the post of 
honor for half a century to come ! 

So ends the Story of a Bad Boy, — but not such a 
very bad boy, as I told you to begin with.